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15.6m stay up for England match

More than 15 million people stayed up to watch England’s battling 2-1 World Cup defeat to Italy on television last night.

The audience for the 11pm kick-off in Manaus peaked at 15.6 million just before half-time, a 79% audience share, with more than 13 million watching to the final whistle, the BBC said.

Many pubs stayed open late after the Home Office announced in March that licensing laws would be relaxed during England matches.

But the Three Lions went down to a second half Mario Balotelli header, after Daniel Sturridge had cancelled out Claudio Marchisio’s opener before half-time.

And there was worse for England as physio Gary Lewin bizarrely became the first member of the camp to be ruled out of the World Cup.

He is to fly home after fracturing and dislocating his ankle after tripping on a water bottle while celebrating Sturridge’s goal.

As well as those watching the game in Brazil on television, many followed the game on social media. Twitter said more than 7.2 million tweets were posted about the match, peaking at 219,637 tweets per minute as Sturridge scored in the 37th minute.

The television commentary of former England international Phil Neville also attracted attention on the social network, with the hashtag #PhilNeville trending.

Defeat in the jungle in Manaus piles pressure on the next game for England, against Uruguay on Thursday in Sao Paulo.

However they were given hope by Uruguay’s earlier defeat, an unexpected 3-1 reversal against the fourth member of Group D, Costa Rica.

Extra buses were laid on in London to get fans home, though the Tube did not run later.

Prime Minister David Cameron sent England a good luck message ahead of their campaign, admitting that the draw was tough, but stressing that the country was behind them.

The flag of St George is being flown over 10 Downing Street for England’s matches in Brazil. It was raised after the Trooping the Colour ceremony on Saturday afternoon, and will also be flying for the matches against Uruguay and Costa Rica, as well as any subsequent games if the team progresses to later rounds.

The flag of St George was also on display outside Number 10 during the World Cup finals of 2006 and 2010.

The late evening kick-off in the England-Italy match also created a quandary for music lovers at the Isle of Wight festival.

They faced a decision between watching the game or the night’s headliners, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who took to the main stage half an hour before kick-off.

Festival promoter John Giddings installed large screens for fans to watch as many World Cup games as possible in the sweltering sunshine at Seaclose Park, Newport.

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