Sunday 15 June 2014

Fumble in the jungle: England fail to stop Balotelli putting Italy 2-1 ahead... after our team physio slips and dislocates his ankle while celebrating earlier Sturridge goal in another Three Lions nailbiter

BannerMillions of fans were expected to tune in to tonight's World Cup clash between England and Italy, filling more than 30,000 pubs given special permission to open late for the 11pm kick-off. And there was a last-minute twist which would boost many fans' hopes - Italy's goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon was ruled out due to an ankle injury, with Paris St Germain goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu taking his place. As thousands of supporters poured into the bars of the Amazon rainforest city of Manaus, Brazil, those back home faced a stark warning by police that the late kick-off - expected to help sell 17.5million pints - could lead to alcohol-fuelled violence. Pictured: Fans roar on the Three Lions in Manaus (left, right and centre) as the kit hangs ready to be worn in the Arena da Amazonia 
A fumble in the jungle: Mario Balotelli pushed past England's defence to bring the score to 2-1 for Italy minutes into the second half
Pulling ahead: Balotelli's goal in the 50th minute was a blow for the Lions - who kept fighting as they continued on their offensive to open the World Cup campaign
Millions of fans cheered on the Three Lions in vain as England tumbled 2-1 in the jungle in the team's first World Cup clash against Italy.
Roy Hodgson's side went on the offensive with a string of chances, but it was not enough. Face-painted fans from Brazil to Bristol groaned and hid their heads in their hands as Mario Balotelli breached England's defences five minutes into the second half.
The despair which loomed five minutes after half time destroyed the unbridled joy hard-won five minutes before it.
Just two minutes after Italy's Claudio Marchisio dashed England's first flushes of hope, the lions had roared back in the form of Daniel Sturridge, pulling the score up to 1-1 as he danced with delight.
Bizarrely, in his excitement after the England goal, team physio Gary Lewin - slipped over on the turf and dislocated his ankle. As his team celebrated, he was stretchered off the sidelines, his role in the rest of the World Cup campaign uncertain.
As the final whistle blew England turned to its next challenge - Thursday's match against Uruguay, who themselves suffered a night of despair after losing 3-1 to Costa Rica.

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