UAY 2 ENGLAND 1
Suarez goals prove inevitable scourge as Three Lions face up to World Cup exit
DEJECTED England manager Roy Hodgson admitted his team had failed to deliver after two goals from Liverpool striker Luis Suarez all but killed off their World Cup hopes last night in Sao Paulo.
But he insisted that the prospect of being responsible for the national team’s first group stage exit at the tournament since 1958 would not prompt him to resign.
Striker Wayne Rooney did at least end a 10-match wait for a World Cup goal, though relief at his equaliser was outweighed by the pain of two from controversial but deadly Uruguayan marksman Suarez.
England’s worst start to a World Cup for half a century has left them on the precipice of elimination, which will be confirmed tonight if Italy fail to beat Costa Rica.
Hodgson’s men now need a minor miracle to progress to the last 16, and he did not hide his disillusionment at a performance and result at odds with the promise hinted at in Saturday’s defeat to Italy.
“I am bitterly disappointed,” he said. “We came with such high hopes and were not able to deliver. It’s a major sadness. I don’t think anyone let me down, the team down, or the country down.
“We conceded two goals, but didn’t concede many other chances at all. I thought we had a lot more possession but they stood firm and we couldn’t score.”
The former Liverpool and Fulham manager rejected suggestions that the ignominious campaign could spell the end of his two-year tenure.
“No, I don’t have any intention to resign,” he added. “I’ve been really happy with the way the players have responded to the work we’ve tried to do. I’m bitterly disappointed, of course, but I don’t feel I need to resign.
“On the other hand, if the Football Association think I’m not the right man to do the job, that will be their decision, and not mine.”
The return of Suarez a month after knee surgery appeared to spook England’s defence, with Cristian Rodriguez and Edinson Cavani taking advantage of lapses to fire narrowly over Joe Hart’s goal in the opening half an hour.
While England were far from the fluid force of Saturday, Rooney, restored to a central position, was in the mood, and whistled a free-kick inches wide before crashing a close-range header onto the bar as Group D’s two losers sparred.
Six minutes before half-time Uruguay struck, and with painful inevitability it was Suarez, to some in England still a bogeyman figure, who made the breakthrough, nodding in Cavani’s clipped cross after England captain Steven Gerrard lost a tackle.
Cavani sidefooted wide shortly after the break as Uruguay kept England on the ropes, though the tide was slowly turning when Rooney forced Fernando Muslera into a point-blank save and, with 15 minutes remaining, he ended his personal drought.
Daniel Sturridge’s clever pirouette on the right touchline allowed him to release full-back Glen Johnson, who drove into the box and delivered a teasing low ball to the far post, where Rooney tapped in to level.
England looked buoyant, but no sooner had they seized the initiative than Uruguay, and Suarez, picked their pocket, the livewire capitalising on Gerrard’s failure to make full contact with a header and scampering behind Gary Cahill to rifle past Hart.
A GLIMMER OF HOPE
ENGLAND could still make the last 16 despite having zero points going into their final group fixture, although it is no longer in their hands. If Italy beat Costa Rica tomorrow and then see off Uruguay on Tuesday, England could scrape through by winning their final match, against Costa Rica. All teams apart from Italy would finish on three points, meaning positions would be decided by goal difference.