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England lose World Cup opener against Italy

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England lose World Cup opener against Italy


Italy beat Roy Hodgson’s England 2-1 in an entertaining match in the sweltering conditions of Manaus.

Claudio Marchisio put the Azzurri in front on 35 minutes but Daniel Sturridge equalized just two minutes later.

Mario Balotelli headed in what turned out to be the winner on 50 minutes to hand Italy the ideal start to their campaign for a fifth World Cup title.

Costa Rica stun Uruguay

Costa Rica produced one of the biggest early surprises of this World Cup when the Central Americans beat fancied Uruguay 3-1 in their Group D opener in Fortaleza.

Edison Cavani handed Uruguay the lead from the spot on 24 minutes but Joel Campbell, Oscar Duarte and Marco Urena all scored in the second half to give underdogs Costa Rica a stunning victory.

Costa Rica are the surprise but deserved early pace setters in Group D, Italy follow in second then England and Uruguay.

Columbia celebrated their return to the World Cup finals after a 16 year absence with a deserved 3-0 win over 2004 European champions Greece to kick start their campaign in Group C.

Pablo Amero got the South Americans off the mark in Belo Horizonte with a deflected shot in the fifth minute.

Teofilo Gutierrez extended their lead on 58 minutes while James Rodriguez added a late third to seal the win

In the other Group C match, Ivory Coast started their World Cup in style, coming from behind to beat Japan two one.

Wilfred Bony and Yao Gervinho scored two second half goals in quick succession to cancel out Keisuke Honda’s 16 minute opener.
The victory puts The Elephants second in the group just behind Columbia.

Fresh start for France

France, led by coach Didier Deschamps, will hope all their bad World Cup surprises are behind them after their disastrous campaign in 2010, where they picked up just one point in South Africa and bowed out at the group stage.

Les Blues will be without talismanic winger Franck Ribery who was ruled out of Brazil due to a back problem.

Olivier Giroud or Antoine Griezmann will be his replacement as France hunt a second World Cup title after winning on home soil in 1998.

They will fancy their chances against Honduras who will be boosted by a goalless draw against England in their final friendly.

Honduras will sorely miss Rangers midfielder Arnold Peralta who was ruled out of the squad with a thigh injury and replaced by Real Espana’s Edder Delgado.

The Central American side are playing their third World Cup finals but are yet to win a match.

Switzerland and Ecuador complete the first round of fixtures in Group E with the pair squaring off at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia.

High hopes for Messi and Co

Argentina are one of the tournament favourites in Brazil and begin the 20th edition against Bosnia-Herzegovina, who are making their debut appearance at a World Cup finals.

Argentina have an abundance of talent in their ranks for this edition and will be eager to end their 28-year wait for another World Cup triumph.

As well as four-time world player of the year Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Javier Mascherano will look to shine on the world stage this time around.

The only injury concern is with Higuain who is nursing an ankle problem but should be fit in time for the tie at the iconic Maracana Stadium in Rio.

Argentina are the favourites but Bosnia should not be taken lightly, having cruised through qualification to top their group.

With Manchester City frontman Edin Dzeko and Stuttgart’s Vedad Ibisevic leading the strikeforce and Miralem Pjanić and Zvjezdan Misimović orchestrating the midfield, the Dragons could upset the form books and prove once more in Brazil that anything is possible at the World Cup.

Iran and Nigeria lock horns at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba on Sunday to wrap up round one of Group F.

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