Tabarez: Suarez saga not to blame for Uruguay defeat
Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez dismissed the suggestion that his team took their eye off the ball in their World Cup defeat to Colombia because they were fatigued by the Luis Suarez saga.
Daniel McDonnell in Rio
Two superb goals by James Rodriguez, including a sensational first half goal of the tournament contender, were enough to settle the round of 16 encounter in the Maracana and set the Colombians up for a quarter final showdown with hosts Brazil.
The build-up to the match was dominated by Suarez's unavailability due to suspension, with Tabarez making strong comments on the eve of the match, but he denied that his group had lost their energy after everything that happened across the week.
“We had the energy and we showed that today,” said Tabarez, “I don't know what energy we could have lost. We simply accepted that he was suspended, but we criticised the excessive harshness of the sanction. That is true, but that is the feeling of an entire nation who follow football.
“We spoke about it before the match, but we could only try and bring positive things from that situation. That generated a lot of strength and willingness to come out and try and get a good result.
Tabarez paid tribute to Rodriguez, or James as he prefers to be known, and suggested that he has been the tournament's outstanding player to this point, adding that he has the spark to turn matches just like Suarez and some other greats from the history of the game.
“He has shown himself to be a great talent,” said Tabarez, “Maradona, Messi, Suarez, Rodriguez, they do things because they have certain gifts that make them special. I believe from what I've seen, he's the best player in this World Cup. I don't think I'm exaggerating.
“It was an even game and we compelled Colombia to shoot from outside the box. And then he scored one of the greatest goals in this World Cup.
The Monaco star, the clear choice for man of the match, was flattered by the praise and said that Los Cafeteros have no fears about taking on the hosts in their first ever World Cup quarter final.
“This is going to be a beautiful match,” said the 22-year-old. “There is no pressure. They have very good players but I believe they must follow us closely because we have good players.”