World Cup

Hodgson confident England will qualify despite Italy loss

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Mario Balotelli heads in Italy’s winner

Mario Balotelli heads in Italy’s winner to silence England fans. Photo AFP  

By AGENCIES

Posted  Sunday, June 15  2014 at  18:31

In Summary

There were bizarre scenes in Manaus as England physio Gary Lewin slipped over on the turf during the celebrations and dislocated his ankle, having to be hauled off the sidelines on a bright orange stretcher saved for players.

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MANAUS- England manager Roy Hodgson has “great confidence” his side can qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup despite losing 2-1 to Italy in Manaus.

Daniel Sturridge cancelled out Claudio Marchisio’s opener for Italy, but Mario Balotelli gave the Azzurri victory.
“It was undoubtedly the best I have seen us play, as a team, in my time with them,” said Hodgson.

“It’s tough to accept we lost. But I’ve got great confidence we can do well enough in the next games to qualify.” England face Uruguay on Thursday before concluding their Group D campaign against Costa Rica on Tuesday, 24 June.

Hodgson said there was a “good chance” England would get the results they needed if they reproduced the same level of performance in those remaining games, while opposite number Cesare Prandelli described them as “one of the strongest teams in the World Cup”.

England fell behind when Marchisio drilled home from 25 yards after Andrea Pirlo’s clever dummy to give Italy the lead, but Sturridge levelled less than two minutes later from an excellent Wayne Rooney cross.

Balotelli had the last word, however, the former Manchester City forward escaping from Gary Cahill to score with a simple header.

The slippery pitch claimed its victim in the form of the team physio. When England scored, Roy Hodgson’s staff were seen to jump off the bench in celebration but physio Gary Lewin fell to the floor and repeatedly banged the ground with his fist.

With little known about the protocol for injured medical staff, given the rarity of the situation, Lewin was quickly surrounded by a crowd of around a dozen staff from both sides and Fifa before being stretchered off before a bemused Roy Hodgson.

Lewin was first team physio at Arsenal for 22 years and became an England physio in 1996 before rising to become head of physiotherapy.

It was a bizarre moment for the millions of England fans who launched an all-day celebration of football as they packed into 32,000 pubs across Britain, ready for the 11pm kick-off.

The 5,000 or so English ticket-holders in the Amazon rainforest city of Manaus, Brazil, did much the same in the 32C heat - flooding out of bars and pubs adorned with the cross of St George. England must now beat Uruguay on Thursday to keep their hopes of making the next round alive.

GROUP D RESULTS

England 1-2 Italy
Uruguay 1-3 Costa Rica