Wayne Rooney finally got what he has been itching for since 2006, scoring a goal in the FIFA World Cup finals—but it may have been for naught, as England took the loss to Uruguay and are now in danger of elimination from Group D. The English players will find themselves rooting for Italy tomorrow, as a win or draw for Costa Rica will knock them out of the tournament.
The game between two beaten and embarrassed teams opened with each looking to score first and boost their confidence following Saturday’s disappointment. Luis Suarez, who missed the first round of matches due to a knee injury, returned Thursday with a vengeance and made all the difference for the Uruguayans. Neither side had ever lost its two opening matches in the history of the World Cup, but England broke that record, though they are likely not happy about it.
Both teams struck hard and fast, though play was still sloppy. Uruguay controlled much more of the possession throughout the game, more than 60 percent by the end, and it showed on the scoreboard. England had several chances at the goal, but were unable to put shots on target, including a heartbreaking miss for Rooney on a header that hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced out as he fell forward into the net.
The English gave just as many chances as they got, allowing Uruguay in behind their defenders to antagonize goalkeeper Joe Hart. Hart, to his credit, made several great saves, but just missed on the two that counted.
Uruguay got in a little trouble early on with an official who seemed happy to blow his whistle at even the slightest hint of wrongful contact, and Diego Godín earned a yellow card for a handball at the edge of the box, though England was unable to convert the free kick. Godín will be a source of contention going forward, as he just missed being carded a second time for hitting Daniel Sturridge in the neck, which would have resulted in him being ejected from the game. Many English fans will lament this missed call in the wake of the loss.
Suarez found the net for the first time in the 38th minute, putting a header over Hart off of a chipped ball into the middle of the box. Edinson Cavani placed the ball perfectly, and Suarez barely had to jump to put the ball away. England began to control the ball a little better and gain more possession, and they continued to strike. The score remained unchanged, however, when the whistle blew to signal halftime.
The second half saw a lot of quick counterattacks from the English players, who were obviously desperate for an equalizer. None was more desperate than Rooney, though, and he finally found the net in the 74th minute to much rejoicing from the English fans; however, their joy was short-lived as Suarez scored his second goal 10 minutes later to hand England their second Group D loss in a row for the first time in FIFA World Cup history.
Rooney took a low cross from Glen Johnson at the back post and tapped it neatly into the net to tie Uruguay. Suarez then beat Stevan Gerrard to a clear path and slotted the ball just over Hart’s head into the goal. England looked for another equalizer, with goalkeeper Fernando Muslera making a terrific save on a cross off of England’s final free kick. Rooney almost had another perfect opportunity off of a corner kick in the 94th minute, but it was no good, and the ensuing goal kick ended the game on a 2-1 win for Uruguay.
England will be looking for a favor from Italy tomorrow, as a win for the Azzurri against Costa Rica is the only scenario that will keep the Three Lions alive in the tournament. Rooney may have finally scored a World Cup Finals goal, but his two near-misses will be what he remembers if Italy loses and England is eliminated from Group D.
Commentary by Christina Jones