Manager Roy Hodgson believes England can take “great confidence” from their opening World Cup Group D match, despite losing 2-1 to Italy in Manaus.
Daniel Sturridge cancelled out Claudio Marchisio’s opener for Italy, but Mario Balotelli gave the Azzurri victory.
“It’s very tough to accept that we have lost,” said Hodgson, whose side face Uruguay in their next game on Thursday.
“It was undoubtedly the best I have seen the team play, as a team, in my time with them.”
Hodgson said there was a “good chance” England would get the results they need if they reproduce the same level of performance in their remaining group games.
Marchisio drilled home from 25 yards after Andrea Pirlo’s clever dummy, but Sturridge levelled less than two minutes later from an excellent Wayne Rooney cross.
Balotelli had the last word, though, with the former Manchester City forward escaping from Gary Cahill to score with a simple header.
Hodgson told BBC Sport: “We hoped for a perfect start but don’t live in a perfect world. In the second half, we did everything but score.
“We are not the sort of team to sit back and, unfortunately, it left one or two opportunities for Italy to get the ball in. But the performance gives us great confidence.”
Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling started in a central role, just behind team-mate Sturridge.
Rooney was switched to the left flank, from where he created Sturridge’s equaliser before spurning a golden chance to level.
Hodgson said: “I thought Raheem Sterling was very dangerous throughout the game. Danny Welbeck had some good moments and Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson did everything expected of them.
“I thought Wayne Rooney did very well. We know he can play in different positions and he can be satisfied with his performance.”
England are third in the group after the opening round of fixtures asUruguay were surprisingly beaten 3-1 by Costa Rica.