Suarez steals spotlight with thrilling winner as Uruguay sinks England
JUN 19, 2014 5:00p ET
In a bitter irony, Suarez’s Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard was involved in both of Uruguay’s goals, first coughing the ball up to create the first, then getting a nod on to the second to set up the winner.
“This victory is for all those people who said so many bad things about the team, it's for them,” a jubilant Suarez told Univision after the match. "This is incredible. I had told my teammates that I had a dream that I was going to score two goals in this match,” he told Univision.
The result means that England will be eliminated from the World Cup if Costa Rica gets either a win or a draw in their game against Italy on Friday, putting Roy Hodgson’s men in the uncomfortable position of having to root for the side that defeated them in their opening match.
It was an almost typical England performance -- gutsy and gritty -- and almost totally undone by cheap giveaways. The inquest to follow this game should focus on that, but the fact is that this team never looked like having all the qualities needed to get out of this group. England's defense was poor, their midfield looked slow, and even the youngsters on the squad looked a step short of real world-class quality. If there was one saving grace, it was in the performance of Wayne Rooney, a bulldog on Thursday night, who finally snatched his long-awaited World Cup goal.
Uruguay got on the board first in the 39th minute when Gerrard was caught in possession. It was a goal that was largely made in Liverpool. Suarez, whose fitness was the source of all debate coming into the game, was in the right place at the right time to finish with a deft header over Hart after his Liverpool teammate foolishly gave the ball away. Dawdling in midfield, Gerrard was stripped by Nicolas Lodeiro, who smartly popped the ball up to Edinson Cavani. Glen Johnson and Phil Jagielka -- who plies his trade across Stanley Park for Everton -- were at sea on the play, gifting Suarez a wonderful chance that he could not fail to miss.
That was one of the few real chances in a game that at times was constipated and ponderous, with Uruguay looking to break up the play and England really unable to use their speed to effect. In fact, most of the English players looked gassed from their exertions in the Amazon against Italy, with Danny Welbeck a shadow of his usual self, and men such as Jordan Henderson and Gerrard almost wholly invisible.
Both teams were poor here, with Cavani and Rooney guilty of some egregious misses. Rooney had a chance on the half-hour mark that was almost impossible to miss -- but somehow, he headed it onto the crossbar from two feet away anyway. Cavani came close to equaling that when he skipped free at the start of the second half and slotted his shot past Hart -- and the post.
It wasn’t until the introduction of Ross Barkley that England looked like scoring at all -- and shockingly, after a handful of bad misses, they did. When England’s goal game, in the 75th minute, it was off a fleet break right down the near flank, with Daniel Sturridge targeting Alvaro Pereira. Pereira, who had been knocked out cold after Raheem Sterling caught him with a knee to the side of the head, should not have been allowed to stay on the field at all, but there he was, and Sturridge went right past him. With a cross to his club teammate, Glen Johnson, the ball was put on a plate for Rooney, who could not miss. Remarkably, it was Rooney’s first-ever goal in this competition, and it came just when all seemed lost.
But even with Rooney’s heroics, England could not hang on. With sagging legs and some tired minds, Suarez was sent free with time and space wide right. With a simply classic finish, we lashed the ball right at Hart’s net, and when Gerrard tried to clear it, he only succeeded in putting the slightest of brushes on to it.
English fans might wonder what could have been, and some are likely to fixate on the case of Mr. Diego Godin. Carded for a cynical foul early on Sturridge, he arguably could have seen a second yellow when he chopped down the Liverpool flier twenty minutes later. But Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo left his cards in the pocket and Godin was free to continue.
In truth, they want to look at their personnel and their missed chances instead. This group was always a tough ask for an England side several pieces shy. Quality tells, and on Thursday night, even against a poor Uruguay side, they fell short.
"I don't think anyone let me down, the team down, or the country down," said Hodgson after the match. "We conceded two goals, but didn't concede many other chances at all. I thought we had a lot more possession but they stood firm and we couldn't score."
Meanwhile, Uruguay's centerback Godin admitted that the victory was 'beautiful' to overcome Hodgson's side and says his team were always confident of getting a result in the Arena Corinthians.
"It was like a final for us, we feel like we won a decisive game and now we will enjoy it like the fans that were at the stadium," he said. "We'll keep fighting until the end. We knew we could win today. The game against Italy will be another final."
FOXSoccer.com's newswire services contributed to this report.