Gary Cahill was left frustrated by the outcome of England’s game yesterday, but certainly not the quality of his nation’s performance.

There was little to choose between the Three Lions and Italy in the heat and humidity of Manaus, and in fact both sides belied the conditions to put on a compelling World Cup group stage encounter, in line with much of the tournament so far.

It was the Italians who struck first through Claudio Marchisio but Roy Hodgson’s men hit back almost immediately courtesy of a thrilling counter-attack that climaxed with Daniel Sturridge sweeping in from close range.

England survived a couple of scares before Mario Balotelli put the Azzurri back in front after finding space at the back post early in the second period. England largely dominated thereafter but could not level again, and a tightly-contested opener narrowly went the way of the Italians.

‘We take a lot of positives from that,’ Cahill reacted after the game. ‘I thought we played well.

‘We started the way we wanted to start. We knew they had players who wanted to get on the ball. They have some very good players but we started the game really brightly, did well and there wasn’t too much we did wrong.

‘Unfortunately we were on the losing side but two good teams went at it.’

Though clearly frustrated to have left the rainforest with no points, our defender was buoyed by his nation’s performance after the interval as well, which bodes well for the Three Lions’ next game, against Uruguay on Thursday. That fixture takes on extra significance after the South Americans’ shock reverse to Costa Rica yesterday.

‘We had more joy in the second half. We had more possession, we were well in the game and I thought they found it difficult in the second half.

‘We had a feeling out there that if we’d scored we could have gone on. We didn’t. Sometimes it’s cruel.’

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