Pirlo hails 'courageous' Italy

The midfielder was pleased with how his side imposed themselves on England in their Group D encounter, believing they delivered an impressive display in spite of the heat

Andrea Pirlo expressed his pride at captaining Italy to victory over England on Saturday and praised the courage displayed by his team-mates.

Mario Balotelli scored a second-half header to give the Azzurri a 2-1 win after Daniel Sturridge had levelled the game following Claudio Marchisio's 25-yard drive.

Pirlo, who led the side in the absence of the injured Gianluigi Buffon, indicated that he was impressed with how Italy carried out their game-plan, especially considering the heat and humidity of the Amazonian city of Manaus.

"I was the captain of a courageous Italy," the 35-year-old told reporters after the game.

"An Italy that wanted to play good football and impose its style on England. We had a good game despite the terrible heat. We know that we are a strong team, despite the many difficulties, and we can go forward."

The Juventus midfielder also gave his approval to Cesare Prandelli's strategy of playing him alongside Marco Verratti in the centre of the pitch.

"The important thing was to win and we did it," he continued.

 "I had a great time playing alongside Marco. During the first half we did very well, and it is right to continue along this path."

Italy play Costa Rica on June 20 before finishing their Group D campaign against Uruguay on June 24.