Italy level with Uruguay at halftime

NATAL, Brazil, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Italy and Uruguay were 0-0 at halftime of their World Cup Group D match at Arena das Dunas on Tuesday.

Cesare Prandelli made four changes to the team that lost 1-0 to Costa Rica in Recife. Thiago Motta, Antonio Candreva, Daniele De Rossi and Ignazio Abate were replaced by Leonardo Bonucci, Marco Verratti, Mattia De Sciglio and Ciro Immobile.

The alterations allowed Italy to adopt the 3-5-2 formation used successfully by Juventus in Italy's Serie A.

It was a return to Italy's conservative instincts and a clear nod to the threat of Luis Suarez, with Prandelli seeking to starve the Liverpool forward of space.

Italy controlled the tempo early with Andrea Pirlo, Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio combining well in midfield.

Pirlo had his side's first clear chance, forcing a finger-tip save from Fernando Muslera with a dipping free-kick.

Uruguay responded in kind after Alvaro Pereira snuck in behind the defence and crossed for Edinson Cavani, who shot wide while under duress.

Mario Balotelli showed his penchant for ill discipline when he was booked for a rash challenge on Pereira.

It was his second caution for the tournament, meaning the AC Milan striker will miss the next match, should his team advance.

Italy looked more fluent as the first-half progressed. Verratti, sitting deep alongside Pirlo, was particularly dangerous with his pace and fancy footwork.

Immobile's first chance came when De Sciglio crossed from the left but the Borrussia Dortmund signing badly missed the target with his left foot volley.

Despite Italy's early momentum Uruguay looked ever-threatening on the counterattack.

Suarez broke clear on goal after being played in by Nicolas Lodeiro, but the striker's shot was blocked by Buffon.

The Azzurri captain then followed up with another save after Lodeiro attempted to smash in the rebound.