Roy Hodgson opted to start the Manchester United striker on the left wing in Manaus for his side's Group D opener, with Rooney coming in for criticism for his failure to adequately shield full-back Leighton Baines from the marauding threat of Antonio Candreva, who provided the cross for Mario Balotelli's winner.
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“Rooney, who is yet to score a World Cup goal, failed to produce the magic that was expected of him.”
However, the Argentina legend – who famously dumped England out of the 1986 World Cup – praised Hodgson's decision to select Raheem Sterling, and backed the Three Lions to take their good form into their do-or-die clash with Uruguay on Thursday.
“Hodgson gambled with Sterling and his move paid off,” he added. “In Euro 2012 the Italy-England match was totally dominated by the Azzurri, but on Saturday it was different.
“England showed their intent and with Uruguay's surprise 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica, Hodgson's team will have to play for survival against [Oscar] Tabarez's Uruguay in Sao Paulo.”
Yet Maradona reserved his most effusive praise for Andrea Pirlo, who dominated the midfield at the age of 35 and almost scored for Italy with a gravity-defying free-kick late on.
“Pirlo's late free-kick had beaten Hart and hit the bar,” he added. “It could have increased the margin of victory. Pirlo played a near-perfect match in his role of `regista', one who controls the flow of the team's offensive play.
“No matter how hard England tried to equalise, it was too much for them.”