Thursday, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Uruguayan National Football Team defeated their European opponents, England, 2-0, in a decisive Group D game in the World Cup.
The South Americans, featuring the returning Luis Suarez, allegedly recuperated from knee surgery last month, were on fire from the get go and the English defense was under siege for a good part of the first half. The Europeans responded in kind with fast counters, classic crosses, and a close call on a Wayne Rooney free kick.
But as the half wore down it was obvious Suarez was pretty near fit as he was giving the English defenders headaches all over the attacking zone. The Cavani partnership seemed potent and looked ready to score on several different plays.
On the England side it was Daniel Sturridge and at times Raheem Sterling, as in some qualifying matches last year, who looked the more dangerous with Rooney playing more of an accompanying role. But it was a cross that found Rooney at the far post that was England’s closest chance as the striker found the corner of the goal hitting the post and crossbar simultaneously with his header.
The game was a good give and take with good ball movement on both sides of the pitch but with a decided Uruguayan tilt.
At the 39th minute Nicolas Lodeiro intercepted an English pass in their defensive zone and found Edinson Cavani in stride. He turned and threaded a perfect lofted pass over two English defenders at the edge of the left side of the English box and just past the jump of Phil Jagielka to find Suarez in stride. The striker headed back toward the opposite post beating Joe Hart’s dive for the opening score. A very pretty goal that could be seen developing the moment he interception took place and could have been called the moment Cavani looked up and saw Suarez getting into position.
The half ended with the 1-0 score line but with the feeling that would not be enough of a lead.
The second half was every bit as exciting and well played as the first. This was already a classic in the making, similar to the England-Italy game earlier in this cup.
At the 75th minute, Glen Johnson got around two Uruguayan defenders and into the box and got a great cross in as he was falling and almost being blocked by the third defender. The through ball reached a sprinting Rooney who arrived unmarked and used his left to beat goalkeeper, Fernando Muslera, for the score. England had earned a tie and in fact had been controlling play for several minutes by the time the goal arrived.
But Uruguay returned fire. The game becoming a slugfest of tough but fair play with each team getting their chances and negating the other’s opportunities. And then came Suarez second moment, the deciding one.
At the 84th minute, long Muslera goal kick glanced off Steven Gerard's head and flew far down field to find Suarez racing after the ball into the box and though marked by a defender he beat the man to the ball and shot a marvelous blast that left Hart without a chance—golazo! Uruguay 2, England 1.
At the end Frank Lampard’s assessment of Suarez’s potential proved prescient.