After Thursday night’s 2-1 loss to Uruguay England finds itself on the brink of elimination from this World Cup, and it is none other than the “Toothy Assassin,” Luis Suarez who has put them there.
Who else could it be but England’s favorite soccer villain, Luis Suarez. Uruguay came into this match on the heels of a very poor performance, losing 3-1 to the poor relations of the “Group of Champions,” Costa Rica.
Italy, Uruguay, and England have all won World Cup Trophies in their storied pasts, while Costa Rica is a minnow from CONCACAF.
Meanwhile England had acquitted themselves well against old world power Italy, and had reason to feel good taking on a Uruguay side that was making five changing to its starting 11.
England manager Roy Hodgson ran out the same lineup that looked good, but ultimately did not get it done in game one, a 2-1 loss to Italy. Hodgson stayed with Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka in the center of his defense, despite questions in many quarters about the duo’s quality.
Hodgson did make one change, and it proved to be a good one, playing Wayne Rooney centrally, rather than on the wing where Rooney started versus the Azzurri.
Rooney was better, attacking fullback Leighton Baines was better, but England still could not score. In the first half Rooney, still searching for his first ever World Cup goal, narrowly missed on free kick, before somehow managing to head a shot off the crossbar from practically inside the Uruguay goal.
Uruguay had some trouble scoring too, in particular Edinson Cavani. An extremely talented striker, Cavani has missed all around him in Brazil, but for a penalty kick against Costa Rica.
But not everyone was having so much trouble hitting the target. Suarez, the English Premier League’s leading goal scorer remembered where to put the ball, in the back of the net. In the 39th minute Steven Gerrard, one of five of Suarez’s Liverpool teammates playing for England, coughed up the ball at midfield.
Cavani curled a fine cross over Jagielka’s head and Suarez was there to nod it home. Suarez may have to appropriate Mario Balotelli’s catchphrase, “why always me?”
Why indeed? But England were still alive, and were arguably the better team for most of the night. When Rooney finally broke his World Cup duck, the gloom over England suddenly lifted. A point wouldn’t be bad, but three would be better.
It was not to be. Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera had a big game on the night, and it was his boot up the field that set the winning play in motion. Gerrard was involved again, his reaching header went backwards, and Suarez was onto it in a flash.
Joe Hart never had a chance. Suarez had arthroscopic surgery on his knee a few short weeks ago, and this was his first game back. The worry for Uruguay was that Suarez wouldn’t last. He lasted alright.
But will England? It depends on Costa Rica. If the Tico’s get even one point against the Italians on Friday, England are done for. An Italian win keeps England alive, but no team has ever advanced to the knockout rounds after losing twice in the group stage.
Meanwhile Colombia advanced to the Round of 16 on the back of their young superstar in the making James Rodriguez. GotSoccer tipped Rodriguez to make a splash in Brazil and the young attacker has been every bit as good as advertised. After a somewhat tightly played first half, both Colombia and Ivory Coast took the shackles off for the second half, in a game that was suddenly being played at 100 MPH.
Both teams won their openers, Colombia 3-0 over Greece, the Ivory Coast 2-1 against Japan. With first place in Group C on the line caution gave way in a furiously paced, and furiously entertaining second half.
At the center of it all was JRod. All game Rodriguez had taken the free kicks, corner kicks, etc. Then with the game still stuck at 0-0, Rodriguez changed tactics. He let Juan Cuadrado take the kick, which Rodriguez promptly buried for a 1-0 lead 64 minutes in.
The second goal had Rodriguez’ fingerprints all over it too. Rodriquez stole the ball at midfield, the ball got to Teo Gutierrez and 21 year old substitute Juan Quintero finished like a cool veteran for his first international goal.
The Ivory Coast came back three minutes later on a bit of brilliance from Gervinho. First he split two defenders, then Gervinho faked another to the ground, before banging in a great goal.
Ivory Coast legend Didier Drogba tried to will his team back level, but in the end Colombia hung on and advanced.
Greece and Japan wrapped up the day with a tough 0-0 draw, that left 10 man Greece the happier side. The Greeks went a man down in the 38th minute when Kostas Katsouranis picked up a second yellow card for a hard foul.
Greece showed plenty of resolve the rest of the way, and Japan had some glaring misses. The result keeps both teams alive, but the Ivory Coast still retains the best chance of advancing with Colombia to the next round.