In an open first half, it was Italy who opened the scoring after 33 minutes through Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio.
A well-worked corner from Italy, including a stunning dummy from Andrea Pirlo, allowed Marchisio to pick up the ball in plenty of space on the edge of the box. He then fired into the bottom corner, leaving Three Lions goalkeeper Joe Hart with no chance.
However, a young England side were quick to respond. A superb pass from Raheem Sterling released Wayne Rooney down the left. The Manchester United man played a brilliant ball across the box with his weaker foot to find Daniel Sturridge free four yards out, and the in-form Liverpool striker finished with ease to equalise for England.
On 50 minutes, the winner arrived for Italy through former Manchester City striker Balotelli. Antonio Candreva beat Leighton Baines too easily and then delivered a superb cross to the back post which Gary Cahill couldn’t defend and was met by the 23-year-old. The striker had a simple task of converting the ball into the empty net and Italy went on to win the contest 2-1.
England now travel to Sao Paulo to play Uruguay in a must-win match for both teams.