Sport World Cup

Sunday 31 August 2014

Suarez leaves England on brink of World Cup exit

Liverpool striker hits double to ensure Hodgson's team need miracle to progress

Sam Wallace

Published 20/06/2014 | 02:30

  • Share
England winger Raheem Sterling gets past a tackle from Jose Gimenez of Uruguay. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images
England winger Raheem Sterling gets past a tackle from Jose Gimenez of Uruguay. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Luis Suarez consoles his Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard after the final whistle of Uruguay's 2-1 win over England in Sao Paulo. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images
Luis Suarez consoles his Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard after the final whistle of Uruguay's 2-1 win over England in Sao Paulo. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

In past tournaments, England's demise has been a slow drawn-out affair, with the hand-wringing and the tears and the dreadful sense of foreboding. Brazil 2014 promises to be short and sweet.

Uruguay 2 England 1

  • Share
  • Go To

If Italy and Costa Rica draw their game tonight then Roy Hodgson's men are out six days after they began. That throat-slicing moment from Greg Dyke at the draw back in October will not tell even half the story.

If there was honour in defeat in Manaus against Italy, then this was just a very poor England performance. They never imposed themselves upon the game and they twice allowed Luis Suarez the kind of goalscoring chances that Norwich City would be ashamed to give him.

Roy Hodgson's team were out of their depth against a Uruguay side who relied upon a striker who has not played a single game since the end of the season. It is a miserable way to go.

SIGNIFICANT

England had even fought their way back into the game with 15 minutes left to play, a first World Cup goal from Wayne Rooney, his 40th for his country and a moment that felt like it could be significant.

England had been ragged, desperate at times, but they were improbably level again. Then they allowed a clearance by the Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera to carry all the way through to Suarez who, becalmed since his first-half goal, pounced on the chance.

Steven Gerrard had said that England's performance would be defined by the way they defended. Well, their defending was shocking and it is primarily that reason why they have lost two opening group games for the first time in their World Cup history.

A win for Italy against Costa Rica would leave them with a slim hope of progressing could they beat Costa Rica on Tuesday by the right margin, but it is hard to see where they gather their momentum from now.

From the start Uruguay exerted a ferocious pressing game upon Hodgson's side and at times the men in white simply could not live with it. England do not have a centre-half capable of carrying the ball out of defence and it showed.

Suarez started the game. Was it ever going to be any other way? Apart from looking a little out of breath early on, the striker did not seem much diminished for his surgery and five weeks without a competitive game. He chased all along the England back line trying to apply pressure on their defence and, by and large, it worked.

It was a poor start from England. Raheem Sterling gave the ball away. and Joe Hart almost got caught by a Suarez corner aimed at his near post.

It was only when Rooney and Gerrard quickly combined to get Glen Johnson free out on the right side in the sixth minute that it felt like they could spread their wings a little.

After that England settled, although it was not for long. Diego Godin was booked for handling a chipped ball from Daniel Sturridge through the back four and the Uruguayan captain should really have been sent off after 29 minutes when he flailed an elbow across the same Englishman's throat. The Spanish referee saw it but only regarded it as worthy of a free-kick.

The best chances fell to Rooney in that first-half but still the World Cup goal eluded him. He narrowly missed with a right-footed free-kick on 10 minutes that soared just fractionally over the Uruguay bar. Then, on 31 minutes he met Gerrard's free-kick at the back-post and his header from a yard out, connecting just behind the leap of Martin Caceres, struck the bar and came out.

England looked less composed at the back. Then, six minutes before the break came the goal. England lost the ball in midfield to Nicolas Lodeiro; first Gerrard and then Jordan Henderson. It went out wide to Edinson Cavani while Suarez timed his run on Phil Jagielka's blind-side.

Just as Mario Balotelli had done in Manaus five days' earlier, so Suarez managed to elude the English centre-halves relatively easily. His header was beautifully placed out of the reach of Hart. This was the goal Suarez wanted.

There was no point denying that it had been coming. As they had against Italy, England very nearly responded immediately with a shot from the left channel at the near post from Sturridge that was pushed away by Muslera. But at half-time the pressure was on. They had not found their rhythm and Uruguay's game-plan was working.

England were even more out of sorts at the start of the second-half. Uruguay should have been two goals up when Cavani planted a shot from the left wide of Hart's reach but wide of the post.

Leighton Baines and Johnson had both suffered in the first-half and it did not get much better for them after the break. It also got no better for Rooney in front of goal. A cross from Baines on the left fell nicely to him in the area but he hit his shot straight at Muslera.

On the touchline, Hodgson took his time to stir. He brought off Sterling, who had struggled and on came Ross Barkley. Rooney's goal came from a cross from Johnson on the right which fell to the striker alone in the box and he could not miss.

Then Uruguay applied the pressure again. Muslera's long ball came off Gerrard's shoulder as he tried to head clear. It carried through to Suarez, who took it on his right and lashed a shot past Hart from an angle. Later substituted, Suarez was in tears after both goals. At the end, his team-mates lifted him into the air. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

Read More

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport