The man who recently underwent knee surgery needed just two touches to finish off a Steven Gerrard flick on in the second half. Muslera cleared a long ball and Captain Fantastic’s jumped did not elevate him enough to make the relevant contact with the ball. Suarez lurked behind and outpaced Cahill, looked up to see the position of the goalkeeper, got his eyes on the ball, adjusted his stride and concentrated on the technique of striking the ball with his arms wide for balance. He hit the ball hard in the middle, as if to dissect it into two hemi-spheres. Hart tried to spread his body across the goal by advancing and narrowing the angle, but he could not even see the ball whistle past him.
Looking at the body of the whole match, Uruguay had a game plan to deny England’s youthful team any space to settle on the ball and the time to think. They pressed hard high on the pitch and reduced the space by moving quickly to press when the ball moved from one player to the next. They packed the midfield, doubled up in marking, and got as many men behind the ball as possible. They were in ‘take-no-prisoners’ mood and were lighting fast in transition and were always first on both the first and second balls.
England started the match hoping for a calculative affair. They were taken unawares as they got intimidated and denied any space to play. They became ‘uncomposed’ and gave away the ball quite easily. The defence panicked and threw themselves at the ball and in flew into tackles. The wingbacks found pockets on the right and more so on the left with Baines. The frustration over failure to construct any methodical attacks caused anxiety and desperation in preparation zone as the midfielders tended not to track down their men as well as the third man running.
The marking was very bad and many crosses found their way to the penalty box as the wide men arrived late from attacking duties. However, the wide man run forward proved useful as Glen Johnson supplied Wayne Rooney with a tap-in in between Suarez’s double. Cahill robbed the Liverpool striker of the ball and quickly passed to Steven G who played with Daniel Sturridge who turned well and fed the overlapping Johnson on the right. The right back took his man on, darted in and out into the penalty box and passed to Rooney who timed his run perfectly and finished with aplomb. Rooney had a good match, forcing a fantastic save from the keeper and hitting a post with header from a foot out.
England could not string passes together and had no rhythm at all as they could not cope with the pace and intimidation of the South Americans. Their attacking moves out of the midfield and the entries into the final third lacked urgency and pace. Besides being too slow in mounting attacks, they were guilty of taking too long to deliver crosses too, allowing Uruguay to regroup and take good defensive positions and shape. As a result, Uruguay had sufficient personnel to deal with any threats posed, particularly forcing early shots that went off target, were weak or went straight to Muslera.
It must be said that Rooney finally got a Fifa World Cup goal.