It was a cloudy evening in Sao Paolo, the largest city in Brazil, and people were expecting a tense contest. It was the most significant fixture of Group D, a do or die match for the teams as they were yet to register a win in the tournament, with Uruguay losing to Costa Rica and England bowing down to Italy, last weekend.
The match was underway at a pleasant pace; with fresh legs on the field both teams were doing their part of running, trying to steal possession. The first fine attempt came from Wayne Rooney who took a free kick from 23 yards out, went for the top left corner, missing by less than a yard. The Uruguayan keeper did not move an inch and was left at the mercy of his good luck. If he had scored, it would have been Rooney’s first goal in the World Cup finals.
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Uruguay was pressing the ball hard, not giving the English much time to think before they could pass the ball, this kept the game at a fast pace, with both teams enjoying almost equal possession in the early minutes. The South Americans were trying to play the English game by crossing the ball into the box hoping a player of theirs would connect, but the European counterparts were able to fend off the danger each time they tried to do so.
The best chance for the men in white came in the 32nd minute, Gerrard hit a free-kick and delivered it in the dangerous zone. Rooney jumped and pounced at hammering the ball from point blank range, but the ball bounced back hitting the crossbar, call it bad luck or a bad header, either way they were unsuccessful to score a goal. As we thought ‘The Three Lions’ were on the verge of scoring, the Uruguayans broke the ice with Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez the in-form striker who came back from a knee injury, coming together to score a goal. Cavani with an incisive ball and Suarez with a superb header, Uruguay were 1-0 ahead.
England started putting pressure after conceding, keeping most of the ball. They got a few chances as well, but Sturridge and Rooney being unable to score. The semi-finalists from the 2010 edition were determined to keep their lead and that’s what they did till the referee blew the whistle for the end of first half.
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Uruguay started out the second half at a different pace; they were looking to seal the deal as soon as possible. England was on the back foot trying to defend against the lethal Uruguayan attack. Cavani also missed a good chance as his shot flew past the goal early in second half. Under pressure, England were able to create a chance with the Manchester United attacking midfielder, Rooney, thrashing the ball towards the goal, but Muslera was able to pull out a magnificent save. Roy Hodgson needed to make some changes so he brought on Barkley and Lallana in place of Sterling and Welbeck respectively. Tabarez, the oldest manager of this World Cup also made a substitution with Fucile coming in for Gonzalez.
England, now desperate for a win or at least a draw were constantly attacking, hunting in packs. But the Uruguayan wall was not that easy to penetrate. Keeping most of the possession the English tried again and again till they succeeded in the 75th minute with Glen Johnson making a great run and crossing the ball to Rooney who tapped the ball into the Uruguayan goal. Things were now level with both teams trying to perform to the best of their abilities. Cahill was like a barrier between the ‘La Celeste’ attack and his goal, guarding it like a soldier. But he couldn’t do anything when Muslera hit a long ball, a midfielder helped it along and it landed at the feet of Suarez with acres of space in front of him. He went on and scored the second goal of the match for his country. It was the end until and unless the English had a miracle under their sleeve, but to the disappointment to their supporters they did not. Hodgson made another change bringing in Lambert in place of Henderson, but it proved to be ineffective as well. Suarez was also substituted with Coates coming in to strengthen up the defence. Now, we were into extra-time and England won their first corner of the match, unable to score, Uruguayans tried to keep the ball to themselves to protect their lead. The game ended at 2-1 in favour of the South American side shattering the dreams of the ‘Three Lions’, left purring in the end.
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