Gerrard: We were unlucky

Steven Gerrard refused to make any excuses after England’s 2-1 defeat against Italy, but said he thought the Three Lions were unfortunate to come away with nothing after a positive display.

Goals from Mario Balotelli and Claudio Marchisio were enough to secure three points for the Azzurri in the opening game of Group D. 

Daniel Sturridge pulled England level two minutes after Marchisio’s opener. However, Balotelli’s 50th-minute header proved decisive as Roy Hodgson’s men – despite having a number of chances to add to Sturridge’s strike – were unable to find a second goal.

England 1-2 Italy

2014 FIFA World Cup 

Group D 

Arena Amazonia 

Saturday 14 June 2014

Gerrard said: “Italy are a good team. We knew how they were going to play and they never surprised us really – but it’s disappointing because we’ve put so much into it and we’ve come away with nothing.

“No matter what the conditions were tonight it was always going to be tough playing against Italy. Yes it was very warm, it was sticky and the pitch was a tough pitch because it was dry and it was moving under foot.

“But they’re just excuses and at the end of the day Italy were a very good team tonight and we fell a bit short. But we’re still not out of this group.”

Raheem Sterling surges forward with the ball

Gerrard praised England’s positive approach to the game

Roy Hodgson’s side enjoyed significant spells of attacking dominance throughout the encounter, but failed to turn the dominance in goals – and Gerrard said England need to be more clinical if they are to progress.

“We got criticised three years ago for sitting back and being a bit toothless really – but I think anybody who watched that game could that we were trying to create,” he said. “We pushed and pushed and gave it everything we’ve got and we were unlucky not to get anything out of it.

“The chances were there and we created them. Maybe we’ve got to look at trying to finish a few more chances off. But we can’t point any fingers because everybody has given absolutely everything they’ve got tonight. 

“The effort, the desire, commitment was there – it’s just maybe a little bit of quality in the final third.

Mario Balotelli leaves England floored

Mario Balotelli leaves England floored

“I think if we look at the game over the whole 90 we can be pleased with a lot of it, but it just goes to show at this level how cruel it is. You give so much effort, you try so hard, and you can still come away with nothing. So that’s the lesson from tonight.”

Following Uruguay’s 3-1 defeat against Costa Rica earlier in the day – the pair’s meeting on Thursday becomes pivotal. But despite the defeat Gerrard remained upbeat about England’s chances of progressing.

“No matter what the result was tonight we were still going to have to go and beat Uruguay,” he added. 

“The challenge has got a little bit more difficult but it’s certainly doable.”

England take on Uruguay in Sao Paulo at 8pm BST on Thursday 19 June.