England aren’t quite yet completely out of the World Cup, but Luis Suarez’s 84th minute winner in Thursday’s Group D game has pretty much sent the Three Lions packing. Defeat to Uruguay means that England are now relying on results elsewhere as Italy go toe-to-toe with Costa Rica on Friday night. A draw or a win for the South American side would confirm England’s elimination.
Suarez dealt Roy Hodgson’s men the first blow of the night with a pinpoint header after 38 minutes. Glen Johnson decided to disregard the basic rules of defending by admiring Edison Cavani’s flowing locks rather than closing him down. The striker picked out Suarez with an inch-perfect cross and England were on the back foot. It took up until 15 minutes from the end for England to equalise and Wayne Rooney stuck two fingers up to his World Cup critics by managing to score from a few yards out after some decent work by Johnson who atoned for his earlier error.
If anything England had the momentum until, with six minutes to play, a long kick forward by Fernando Muslera emphasised England’s defensive frailties. This annotated diagram highlights the exact moment Suarez pounced, and England’s World Cup dreams all but disappeared for another four years.
1. Steven Gerrard goes up to contest a header with Edinson Cavani after a long kick upfield from Uruguay’s keeper. Unfortunately the England skipper can only flick it on over the head of Phil Jagielka who is making himself nice and cosy in no man’s land.
2. Gary Cahill suddenly remembers that he didn’t set up his Sky+ to record Game of Thrones while he is away and someone will inevitably put a spoiler up on Twitter and ruin it for him. That lapse in concentration allows Luis Suarez inside him and the Uruguay striker sprints towards the ball flicked on by Stevie G. It’s a sight all to familiar for Premier League viewers and Liverpool supporting Englishmen find themselves in a moral quandary.
3. Suarez shows no signs of weakness after a month out recovering from knee surgery and, although his legs appear to threaten to buckle, he takes a touch with his right foot and steadies himself.
4. The finish is unstoppable. Hit hard and on target, Joe Hart is helpless. England’s World Cup dreams crumble like the pastry on a warm apple pie, but rather than delicious goodness, fans are left with the bitter taste of what could have been.