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England manager Roy Hodgson defends Wayne Rooney's performance after the 2-1 defeat to Italy
England manager Roy Hodgson sprang to the defence of Wayne Rooney after the Manchester United forward was criticised for an indifferent performance in the 2-1 defeat to Italy in Manaus.
Rooney started in a wide left position in order to accommodate Liverpool youngster Raheem Sterling in the number 10 role, but struggled with some of the discipline required.
He often allowed full-back Matteo Darmian to run well beyond him but, on the plus side, he provided the cross for Daniel Sturridge's first-half equaliser with a rare moment of quality.
"I think it is harsh to say he didn't look comfortable on the left. I thought he did quite well and he set up our goal," Hodgson said.
"It is looking for things to say he didn't play well in that position because I think he did."
Hodgson felt his side were unlucky to lose to Mario Balotelli's winner after Sturridge had cancelled out Claudio Marchisio's opener.
"It is a bit tough to accept we lost the game. Joe Hart has had a pretty quiet evening but we found ourselves having lost it.
"Even when they got back to 2-1 I thought we would get back into it. I thought that was the best I'd seen the team play.
"I suppose you have to bite the bullet today and accept we played well.
"I thought we came to terms with it much better in the second half. We are a positive team who do not sit back and we left one or two opportunities for them, but we had chances to score.
"Our final ball was disappointing and we are better than that, but we are a young team and this is a first World Cup for two thirds of the team and it is something we will improve upon going forward.
"It isn't a perfect start, but we don't live in a perfect world.
"To take them so close gives us great confidence playing against Uruguay and Costa Rica."
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