Last Updated: 15/06/14 1:06am
FULL-TIME: England 1 Italy 2. Mario Balotelli's second-half header is enough to earn Italy an opening game win in Group D after Daniel Sturridge had cancelled out Claudio Marchisio's first-half opener. There were signs of encouragement for England, particularly from Raheem Sterling, but it will be a big game against Uruguay now on Thursday.
Italy again almost catch out England on the break as Immobile bursts forward, but an excellent tackle by Cahill on the edge of the box stops the substitute.
Italy almost score a third goal following a brilliant free-kick from Pirlo. The Italy captain must be 35 yards from goal and he nonchalantly cut across the ball to leave Hart beaten, but it bounces off the top of the bar. He's been a class act tonight.
YELLOW CARD: First booking of the match in the 92nd minute and Sterling can't have any complaints as he brings down Parolo following a fine pass by Pirlo almost sent his team-mate clear.
England feed the ball to Sterling 25 yards from goal and he creates a little bit of room for himself, but his shot is wayward and Italy have another chance to draw the sting out of the game, with injury-time approaching.
Sterling has been a constant bright spark for England and he bursts back into life to put the Italians on alert as he runs towards the box. His shot is deflected wide for a corner, but it's a nothing delivery from Gerrard.
Barkley looks dangerous on the edge of the area and has the Italians on the back foot, but Rooney takes possession from the Everton youngster. Rooney then fires off target with his left foot and Barkley doesn't seem best pleased.
Lallana is brought down just outside the penalty area and Gerrard, Rooney and Baines all want a look-in from the free-kick. The captain pulls rank, but Gerrard hits his free-kick over the bar and it's never troubling Sirigu.
Gary Cahill looks to be suffering from a bit of a cramp and, with Gary Lewin having been stretchered away in the first half, Joe Hart steps in as a makeshift physio.
Italy almost catch England out on the counter-attack as Immobile is played into space down the left-hand side, but good covering from Cahill who manages to get a touch on the ball as it goes safely through to Hart.
SUBSTITUTION: England respond by making their final change as Adam Lallana comes on for Sturridge, who appears to be struggling from the effects of Chiellini's recent challenge.
SUBSTITUTION: Italy make their final substitution as Candreva comes off and Marco Parolo replaces him.
Free-kick for England 25 yards from goal as Chiellini goes through Sturridge. It's Baines who takes it and he curls his left-footed effort over the wall but it's a relatively comfortable diving save for Sirigu.
There's 15 minutes to go and England have one substitution left. Does Hodgson bring on Rickie Lambert to give his side more of a target up front?
Baines' first corner is aimed to the near post and Cahill's attempted flick-on is deflected wide for another corner. The second one is taken short and worked back to Johnson, whose left-foot effort from range swerves away from goal.
Both teams getting ready to make substitutions, but Leighton Baines is going to take a corner from the right-hand side first.
Gary Cahill has a little talking to from referee Kuipers following his foul on Balotelli. No yellow card for the England centre-half as Balotelli writhes around.
How many more times are England going to let Italy attack so easily down the right-hand side? The ball is fed to Candreva, who runs forward before firing a low 25-yard shot wide of Hart's post.
Corner for England from the right-hand side, but again they can't find the target. Baines with the delivery this time, but it's right into the centre of the six-yard box and it's an easy catch for Sirigu.
England counter from that Darmian half-chance as Barkley is fed possession on the left-hand side of the pitch. He darts into the box and cuts onto his right foot before seeing his low, curling attempt pushed away by Sirigu.
Darmian's a real threat for Italy. This time the right-back gets into the box and brings the ball under control smartly, but his shot is blocked and England clear.
Great chance for England to equalise for a second time. Baines slides a pass into the left side of the box to Rooney, who cuts back on to his right foot, but he drags his shot wide of the post.
SUBSTITUTION: England make their first change as Ross Barkley comes on for Welbeck. Looks like he'll now play in the No.10 role, with Sterling on the left and Rooney on the right.
Again Italy are down the right-hand side as a low cross is fired in across the near post, but Balotelli can't get a touch as Hart claims. England not doing anything to help out Baines at left-back.
Another penalty appeal for England as a great flick from Sturridge puts Gerrard into space in the box and the England captain is knocked to the ground by Paletta. Very robust defending from Paletta and Gerrard doesn't appeal as Kuipers says no penalty.
Italy have enjoyed success with their right-back and now England try to copy their opponents as Johnson gets in space down the right-hand side. His low cross is inviting, but there's not enough appetite to get on the end of it and Italy clear on the edge of their six-yard box.
England are still offering a threat and this time it's Rooney who has a go from outside of the area as he flashes a right-footed shot just beyond Sirigu's far post.
England want a penalty after Welbeck is clattered into by Chiellini, but he probably makes a bit too much of it for the ref's liking.
Positive response from England again to falling a goal behind as Sturridge skips past a couple of challenges on his way into the penalty area, but he's just unable to keep the ball under control as Italy eventually clear the danger.
Italy regain the lead five minutes into the second half and it comes from their right-hand side. Candreva has too much space on the flank as he turns back onto his left foot and curls in a cross to the far post where Balotelli is waiting and his downward header beats his former City team-mate Hart.
Again England fancy their chances of testing Sirigu from distance, just as they did at the start of the first half. Sturridge does well to cut inside and skip past De Rossi, and his dipping 25-yard left-foot shot is pushed away by Sirigu and eventually cleared for a corner.
Looks like England have started the second half with Welbeck on the left and Rooney on the right. Maybe Welbeck's better defensive qualities are required to stop Darmian getting up Italy's right-hand side.
England get the second half underway. There have been no changes at half-time. Will we have a winner or will the teams settle for a point apiece?
Callum Bishop has been back in touch and he says: "From one United player to another. Earlier I mentioned Welbeck starting and he is proving me right. Now Rooney. People will say he has not been very influential but he has played a few fantastic balls and the ball he played for Sturridge was top notch. But he should be playing in the 'number 10 role.' That is where he is most deadly and Sterling is better coming inside from the wing. Do that and we will be stronger in attack in my opinion."
HALF-TIME: It's England 1 Italy 1. Claudio Marchisio gave Italy a 35th minute lead with a drilled effort following a well-worked corner, but England were level within two minutes following a fine move which ended with Sturridge converting Rooney's cross.
And yet another chance for Italy before the half-time whistle blows as Candreva is found in space on the left side of the box and he cuts inside to crack a right-footed shot off the post.
Italy almost regain the lead before half-time. Brilliant pass from Pirlo plays in Balotelli, who skips round the onrushing Hart. The England keeper doesn't retreat back to his line and Balotelli's chip from a tight angle is headed off the line by Jagielka.
There will be two minutes' added time at the end of the first half due to a combination of the two goals and injury to England physio Gary Lewin.
Another threat from Italy's right as full-back Darmian cuts in field and has a go from 25 yards but he's off target. Baines isn't getting enough support or assistance on England's left from either Rooney or Gerrard.
Italy trying to find Balotelli in the box on several occasions with crosses from the right. This time it's Candreva who whips it in, but Hart claims and Balotelli is closely attended to by Jagielka and Cahill. Italy definitely getting some time and space down the right.
Not for the first time in the opening half, Danny Welbeck has harried the Italian defence and midfield within 30 yards of their own goal to win possession back for England.
We're now back underway, but Gary Lewin is being stretchered away and there is a suggestion that he has suffered a suspected broken ankle.
There's a problem on the England bench as physio Gary Lewin appears to have been injured in the celebrations following Sturridge's goal. The match has yet to resume.
England respond immediately. Excellent pass from Sterling releases Rooney down the left-hand side in behind the Italy defence. Rooney plays in an inviting cross towards the far post where the unmarked Sturridge hits a first-time side-foot past Sirigu.
England are caught napping from a short corner and are then also undone by a brilliant dummy by Pirlo, who lets the ball roll on to team-mate Marchisio. The Juventus midfielder drills a low first-time shot from 25 yards through a crowd of bodies in the box and beyond the dive of Hart.
Moment of panic in the England defence as the ball is helped back towards the six-yard box from beyond the far post, but Balotelli isn't able to get enough contact on his header and Italy don't have the numbers in support in the area.
Rooney not happy with De Rossi's challenge there, but referee Kuipers content just to award a free-kick. Looked the right call, and then Gerrard wastes the opportunity as his set-piece is played in far too deep and is collected by Sirigu.
Past the half-hour mark in the game and the tempo remains pretty sedate. England are the ones who occasionally add a bit of zip to things, while Italy are trying to get Balotelli in behind Jagielka and Cahill.
Candreva has another try from range, but he drags his 25-yard shot well wide of Hart's goal. Gerrard and Rooney are then in discussion, seemingly about the space Candreva was afforded near the right corner of the penalty area.
Sterling has vindicated Hodgson's decision to start him tonight and has looked very sharp. In contrast, Rooney has struggled to get in the game from the left-hand side and has been a peripheral figure.
And now it's England's turn to threaten again as Welbeck gets in on the right side of the box and his low cross deflects off Barzagli, but drifts beyond the post. From the resulting corner, Italy aren't convincing, but Rooney is unable to squeeze the ball back across goal.
Up the other end and Balotelli has a crack from 30 yards as he is fed possession in space, however, the former Manchester City striker curls his effort over the bar.
Sterling has definitely been England's most dangerous outlet and he flashes a low ball across the six-yard area which is just too far in front of Welbeck. Solid defending as well from Paletta to ease Welbeck out of it.
Past the 20-minute mark and England will surely be satisfied with how the game has gone so far. Though the early threat and promise has dissipated a little, they seem happy to keep Italy at arm's length.
Italy have their first shot in anger as Candreva hammers an effort from about 35 yards which almost seemed to surprise Hart. The England keeper was unable to catch the shot, which may have had a bit of swerve and dip on it.
Disciplined defending from England so far, everyone seems to know their job. Italy fling the ball into the box, but there's only Balotelli in the area and Hart has an easy claim.
Now England string a few passes together as Baines and Johnson both provide some width in support before the Liverpool full-back tries his luck only to fire off target.
Italy getting their full-backs forward better than England at the moment. Darmian and Chiellini both finding space on the flanks to provide Pirlo with options to spread the play.
Another effort from distance for England. Italy sloppy in trying to clear the ball as it drops straight to Danny Welbeck 25 yards from goal. But the Manchester United forward's low drive is wide of the target.
You can see this being the pattern of the game now, Italy controlling possession and England trying to keep them in front of them. England's defence pretty deep to try and stop Balotelli making runs in behind on to long passes from Pirlo et al.
Italy venture into the penalty area and appeal for handball after Pirlo's deft touch lifts the ball onto Glen Johnson's arm, but the England full-back's arm was next to his body. Looked the right call not to award a penalty.
Italy slowing things down a little as Verratti, De Rossi and Pirlo enjoy some possession. Think Italy will be happy to keep the tempo down, especially in the conditions.
England fancying their chances from distance as the ball breaks to Jordan Henderson 30 yards from goal and his first-time effort is pushed away by Sirigu. Bright start from England.
From Italy's perspective it is De Rossi who is the deepest of the three central midfielders. I wonder if England have planned for that? Or were they anticipating Pirlo to sit in front of the back four?
There was a momentary jump out of the seats thinking England had scored as Sterling let fly from about 30 yards as his right-footed thumper struck the netting. But it was the other side of the upright as Sirigu flew across his goal.
England have lined up with Wayne Rooney on the left, Danny Welbeck on the right and Raheem Sterling supporting Daniel Sturridge down the middle.
A long ball puts Gary Cahill under pressure and he is forced to concede a throw-in deep into England's half as Mario Balotelli closes him down. However, nothing comes of it.
We're underway. Bjorn Kuipers is the ref and Italy get things going. Balotelli wearing one pink and one blue boot.
We'll soon find out if it's going to be Sterling or Rooney in behind Sturridge, and there was also talk in the build-up to the game that De Rossi would play as the deepest lying of Italy's central midfielders. Can't wait to find out!
So, 10 minutes to go, is this game going to be in keeping with the World Cup so far and deliver goals? Or is a 0-0 on the cards? And, if so, will that be an acceptable result?
Josh Gascoigne is certainly feeling positive and he says: "2 years ago, England drew 0-0 to Italy over 120 minutes. They were slightly outplayed but they created the best chance of the game. This was without Sturridge, Sterling, Barkley, Lallana, Lambert, Shaw. Even Baines didn't play. I think this England team is stronger and the Italians are very similar. 1-0 England, Rooney from the spot!"
About 15 minutes until kick-off, and there definitely seems to be a feeling of rising optimism about England's chances, especially on the back of Uruguay's surprise defeat by Costa Rica. England's hand appeared to be underplayed in the lead-up to the World Cup, but Roy Hodgson's decision to start Raheem Sterling tonight has certainly increased the level of positivity.
Sammy Lawford gets in touch to say: "Good luck England! After the result of Costa Rica, a draw is not an option. Costa rica just need to defend during their next matches to go through to the next phase so victory tonight by at least 2 goals is essential."
Also, there's been plenty of talk in the build-up to this game about how England can stop Andrea Pirlo, but do they have to be mindful of focusing too much on the Juventus midfielder, when Italy still have the likes of Daniele de Rossi and Marco Verratti?
Still some debate about who will play in behind Sturridge, with some saying it will be Rooney, and others saying it will be Sterling. Who would you start in the No.10 role? Get in touch @MABuckingham or at email@example.com
For what it's worth, I think Welbeck's pace and movement can cause Italy's defence problems tonight, especially in combination with Sterling and Sturridge. He also has a decent record of one goal every three caps for England. It looks a well-balanced team from Hodgson.
However, Charles Yendole says: "Welbeck & Henderson are not good enough to be in the squad let alone start. Barkley & Lallana should be in instead of them even if Rooney would have to play a bit deeper."
Still getting mixed views on the inclusion of Danny Welbeck in the starting line-up as Liam emails in to say: "I agree with Callum. Welbeck has pace, aerial threat and strength. He will track back and provide cover. England to win 2-1 with Welbeck contributing!"
Scott Granger, meanwhile, will settle for a draw: "Would love England to win today but with Costa Rica getting a surprise win, I would settle for a draw right now ! Disappointed not to see Lallana not start though!"
Tony F is feeling a bit pessimistic ahead of kick-off, saying: "I have a bad feeling about this - Sterling and Welbeck playing wide will give Italy too much control in midfield and they will punish us. I hate to say it but 2-0 to the Azzurri looks on."
Chris Green is happy to see Sterling in the starting line-up, saying: "I'm glad Hodgson has decided to select Sterling ahead of Lallana, as I feel the talented Liverpool midfielder offers more with his pace, trickery and goalscoring ability. England to win 1-0, with Rooney scoring the goal."
Tom Moore thinks Buffon's injury has given England an advantage, saying: "Prior to Buffon's injury I would've said it's going to be an even game but losing the captain and most capped player is almost certain to unsettle the Italians, going for a 3-1 England win now."
However, there is support for Welbeck's inclusion from Callum Bishop, who says: "This is going to be a bit controversial but I think playing Welbeck is the right decision. He has an unbelievable work rate and has proven he can score goals for England. The work rate will be crucial and this is all coming from a Liverpool fan."
ITALY TEAM: Sirigu; Paletta, Darmian, Barzagli, Chiellini; Verratti, De Rossi, Candreva, Pirlo, Marchisio; Balotelli
Sam Clements is another unhappy to see Welbeck starting, emailing in to say: "Poor to see welbeck starting, should be lallana or chamberlain, he was amazing last game. Picked up a knock but was our best player by far."
So the England team is confirmed. What do you make of it? Do you think Lallana is unlucky not to start? And should Rooney start in behind Sturridge, or would Sterling be better off in that position?
ENGLAND TEAM: Hart; Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Gerrard, Henderson; Sterling, Rooney, Welbeck; Sturridge
Tom Tindall isn't too happy to see Danny Welbeck starting tonight, saying: "Really disappointed that we are starting with Welbeck, he is not international quality. I think that both teams will cancel each other out and will be a low scoring draw. Hope I'm wrong and we give the kind of performance that Holland gave last night."
Mixed levels of confidence about an England win tonight as Cian Hughes emails in to say: "I think England were boosted today when they found out Buffon wouldn't be playing, but I think Sirigu is a very good goalkeeper and a very good back-up. England would look stronger if they didn't start Welbeck and started Lallana. I think that starting Henderson was the correct decision, if you looked at his performances in their last friendly, he was outstanding. But anyway my prediction is a close 3-2 Italy win. Sterling and Sturridge to score for England to put them 2-0 up, and Italy to come back and win 3-2 through El Sharawwy and Balotelli with 2."
Well, Group D is going to be really interesting now after Costa Rica pulled off a shock 3-1 win over Uruguay. Costa Rica had been the rank outsiders to qualify from the group, but came from behind to stun the 2010 semi-finalists. Will this result affect the way England approach the game against Italy?
We're also getting some feedback in on Twitter as @mattierance tweets: "england to win 2-1 tonight Sturridge and Gerrard to score, balotelli for Italy"
And Ryan Simpson says: "Both teams will be digging for the win after the Uruguay shock, hopefully no problems with the pitch 3-1 to England!"
Some feedback is starting to come in and Rifat Ahmed writes: "Hoping for a cracker with some beautiful goals. England I think have a chance if we can stop Pirlo and Verratti who are very good with the ball, can't wait to see Raheem and Welbeck run that ageing defence of Italy; I have a slight feeling of Italy winning today because overall they have top quality in midfield...3-2 to Italy."
For Italy, their most-capped player, their captain and first-choice goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has been ruled out due to injury and will be replaced by Salvatore Sirigu. How big a blow to Italy will it be to be without Buffon?
For England, it seems that Raheem Sterling has got the nod to start at the expense of Adam Lallana. Sterling is expected to start on the right wing, with Danny Welbeck on the left and Wayne Rooney in the No.10 position in behind Daniel Sturridge.
We're still awaiting official confirmation of the two teams, but there is some interesting selection news from both the England and Italy camps.