England see a Sterling silver lining

Raheem Sterling's performance offered hope for the rest of the World Cup campaign

Raheem Sterling's performance offered hope for the rest of the World Cup campaign

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Jordan Henderson stressed the positives after England’s World Cup opener ended in a 2-1 defeat to Italy, highlighting the “outstanding” performance of Liverpool team-mate Raheem Sterling.

The Three Lions produced a rousing attacking display against Italy in Manaus, yet poor defending saw them leave the Amazon on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline.

Roy Hodgson’s side paid for their wastefulness in front of goal as the unmarked Claudio Marchisio impressively put the Azzurri ahead.

Daniel Sturridge levelled immediately, only for Mario Balotelli to head home in the second half and condemn England to defeat at the Arena Amazonia.

“Everybody is disappointed, but I still think there are a lot of positives to come out of it,” Henderson said.

“What we will do is keep confident, keep believing and look forward to the next game.

“I felt as though we gave it everything, worked really well as a team.

“Going forward, I thought we were brilliant, especially in the first half. I thought we counter-attacked really well and obviously got the goal.

“In the second half I thought we dominated with the ball, dominated with possession and penetrated with the passing and runs in behind, with a few chances.

“Like I say, it was disappointing but we gave it everything we had.”

One of the main positives on the night was the performance of Sterling in what was just his third England start, impressing onlookers and team-mates with his directness, skill and passing range.

“We didn’t know he was going to start until today,” Henderson said of the 19-year-old.

“We didn’t know the team but there were no surprises that Raheem started because he has been brilliant in the games, brilliant in training.

“I think he was outstanding. He got on the ball, was confident taking players on and played a big part in the goal.”

While it was an encouraging display from Sterling and Co, it was still not enough to prevent defeat.

England lie joint bottom of Group D along with Uruguay, who lost their opening 
match 3-1 to unfancied Costa Rica.