BRAZIL BEAT: England players cheer for Italy win

Associated Press
England's Daniel Sturridge, centre, battles for the ball with Uruguay's goalkeeper Fernando Muslera and Uruguay's Cristian Rodriguez during the group D World Cup soccer match between Uruguay and England at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Italy's biggest fans play for England.

England striker Daniel Sturridge tweeted before the Azzurri's game against Costa Rica: "Come on Italy!! Necessità il primo dei due favori! Learnt that from the local Italian chef. .. #badtimes #inGodshands #ForzaAzzurri."

The Italian phrase Sturridge learned means he needs the first of two favors. The English, who lost their first two matches, would be eliminated if Costa Rica beats or draws Italy on Friday. Then Italy would need to defeat Uruguay and England would have to beat Costa Rica for the English to have a chance to advance on goal difference.

Italy star Mario Balotelli, well aware that England's hopes rest on the Italians, jokingly tweeted Thursday: "If we beat Costa Rica i want a kiss, obviously on the cheek, from the UK Queen."

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POKER STAR

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Max Kruse isn't playing for Germany at the World Cup, so he found another international competition — the World Series of Poker.

The Borussia Moenchengladbach forward finished in third place and won $36,494 this week in one of the Las Vegas tournament's 65 events.

Kruse, 26, played in three World Cup qualifiers for Germany but has since fallen out of favor.

WSOP spokesman Seth Palansky says it was Kruse's first time playing the 2-7 Draw Lowball variant of poker, so he got a 30-minute tutorial from fellow German and poker star George Danzer before making his strong showing.

The seven-week series features an estimated 80,000 players. Organizers expect to give out $200 million in prize money during the events.

— By Michelle Rindels — www.twitter.com/RindelsAP

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Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. Follow AP journalists covering the World Cup on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_Sports/world-cup-2014

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