England may have lost their World Cup opener but Daniel Sturridge wants a repeat performance in Thursday’s crunch game with Uruguay.
Roy Hodgson described the Three Lions’ display against Italy as the best of his reign, despite the Group D clash with Italy ending in a 2-1 defeat.
There were plenty of positives to take from the match against the four-time champions, notably their impressive attacking threat, and goalscorer Sturridge hopes England can replicate that showing in their must-win match with Uruguay, albeit with a different outcome.
“It’s important we continue playing the way we did against Italy,” the in-form Liverpool striker said.
“I thought we played very well, it was just unfortunate. There were two very good sides out there, but they got the breaks and we didn’t.
“We played some good football and worked very hard as a team and created a lot of chances, we just lost the game.
“We’re disappointed because we deserved something out of the game but sometimes you don’t get the breaks you want to get.
“We worked their ʼkeeper – if you get shots on target and their ʼkeeper makes good saves you have to say ‘fair play’.
“It was unfortunate we didn’t get something out of the game. Sometimes you get luck, sometimes you don’t get luck. That’s football.”
England’s attitude and aptitude have been deservedly praised in the aftermath, although that counts for nothing in the group standings.
Only goal difference separates them and bottom-placed Uruguay, who suffered an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to unfancied Costa Rica.
The first-round results sets up a mouth-watering encounter on Thursday in Sao Paulo, where the loser will see their group-stage exit all but confirmed.
“It’s a big game but these are the games everyone looks forward to,” Sturridge said.
“We all want to play in it and regardless of whether we’d won today or not, we’d have still gone into it with a positive mentality and positive attitude, looking to win the match.
“The fact Uruguay lost earlier doesn’t really change anything. If they’d have won their game they’d still want to beat us and secure their advance to the next round as early as possible.
“The Italy result doesn’t change anything. We’ve still got two games to show what we can do. There are two games to win.”
Key to success against Uruguay will be a stronger defensive performance from England and a more clinical edge in front of goal. Sturridge’s first-half strike was all England had to show for their 18 shots against Italy, with wayward finishing and the fine performance of back-up goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu thwarting them.
Collecting just his ninth cap for Italy, the Paris Saint Germain goalkeeper produced several fine saves to keep England at bay and put Italy on track for qualification.
“It was good to win because it showed that we need to be a little more patient,” said Sirigu. “We were getting some criticism but this is going to leave us feeling more relaxed.”
“If I had to carry on playing, I’d be ready. We’re hoping for him to come back, though.
“He’s a big name and he did his bit today by saying a few words before the game. So there’s no problem at all.
“When he recovers, he knows that he’s going to get his old place back and I know where mine will be. It’s as simple as that.”