At halftime: Suárez header has Uruguay up on England, 1-0 — FOLLOW LIVE

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Story of the half: Thirty-eight minutes of even play loses its balance after the game’s first shot on target. Playing his first match since knee surgery last month, Luis Suárez heads his team in front, converting a Uruguayan moment of transition into a 1-0 lead over England.

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Goals:

39′ – In his night’s first moment of freedom, Suárez gives his team the lead. On a counterattack orchestrated by Nicolas Lodeiro, Edinson Cavani moves wide left, giving his teammate an outlet as the defense reacts at the edge of England’s defensive third. Cavani takes the ball and cuts onto his right foot before chipping to the middle of the box. There, Suárez has pulled away from Phil Jagielka, giving himself enough room to head the opening goal inside Joe Hart’s right post.

Other key moments:

9′ – Moving quickly into their attacking third, England finds Danny Welbeck at the top of the arc, with Wayne Rooney coming from deep for a pass that looks like it will make its way through the defense. Diego Godín, however, brings his right hand down on the chip, drawing a yellow card while killing the movement. Rooney’s ensuing free kick goes wide of the left post.

15′ – Uruguay’s first moment of danger comes when Phil Jagielka’s failed clearance sits up for Cristian Rodríguez in the left of the penalty area. The Atlético Madrid midfielder has all the time he wants to line-up a left-footed shot, but when his blast goes into the stands, Joe Hart’s left untested.

26′ – La Celeste’s best spell of sustained pressure sees a ball chipped into the box brought down by Nicolas Lodeiro, who turns and plays through ball for the cutting Edinson Cavani. Gary Cahill tracks the run and eventually sends the ball out for a corner, though on the ensuring restart, Cavani gets a step on the Chelsea defender and is able to get off a shot. The ball goes into the seats, leaving Uruguay without a shot on target.

31′ – A restart deep on England’s left sees Steven Gerrard hit a perfect ball high and just inside Fernando Mulera’s far post. Wayne Rooney’s beat his mark but, continuing his World Cup goal-scoring drought, plays the ball off the side of his head and onto the corner of goal. The best chance of the match ends with Rooney tangled in the back of the net as the ball rebounds back into the box.

41′ – England nearly responds to Suárez’s opener when Rooney finds Sturridge making a diagonal run behind the right of Uruguay’s defense. Left with a sharp angle, the Liverpool attacker turns to shoot before he’s closed down by Godín. Muslera is there to block England’s first shot on target out for a corner.

Lineups:

Uruguay: Muslera; Pereira, Godín, Jimenez, Cáceres; Rodríguez, Gargano, Ríos, Lodeiro; Suárez, Cavani.

England: Hart; Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Gerrard, Henderson; Welbeck, Sterling, Rooney; Sturridge.

Key Players:

  • Steve Gerrard, England – After the Three Lions’ opening game loss to Italy, fans were left asking “what happened to Gerrard?” He had no impact on the match. Today the England captain got off to a more influential start but failed to sustain that influence. Particularly against a Urugayan midfield apt to sit deep, can England’s key distributor get more involved?
  • Diego Godín, Uruguay – Just before the half-hour mark, Godín teased a second yellow card when he brought down Daniel Sturridge on England’s right. With a 19-year-old World Cup debutant to his right in Uruguay’s central defense, Godín is one of Óscar Tabárez’s most important players, but against a quick England attack, the veteran defenders in danger of going off.

Numbers to know:

40 – Suárez, already his country’s leading scorer, hits a benchmark, scoring his 40th international goal (in 78 appearances).

2 – Total shots on target. Suárez’s goal should open things up.

60% – England’s possession, though the team’s best chances have come off a dead ball and a quick movement through the middle of the field.

Question for the second half:

  • Does England leave Raheem Sterling wide? – Wayne Rooney has come in from the wide position he occupied against Italy to take up a place in the middle of the park, a deployment that pushed Sterling to the flank. Whereas the Liverpool teenager was one of England most influential players against the Italians, his influence has been more sporadic against Uruguay. With England generating fewer chances today than they did against the Azzurri, does Roy Hodgson need to bring Sterling back to the middle?

Mexico captain Guardado suffers hamstring injury

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With the World Cup still half a year away, there’s plenty of time to heal from injuries and get the body right after tweaking things during the club season.

And yet, there will still be some concern among Mexico fans.

Team captain Andres Guardado suffered a hamstring tear, his club Real Betis confirmed on Monday, and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. That’s nothing to write home about when it comes to preparing for the big tournament, but with Guardado 31 years old and struggling with injuries in recent years, Mexico fans will be keenly aware that hamstring injuries can return with a vengeance if not given the right time to heal.

Guardado has shown his age in recent times, not necessarily with his play on the field, which has been critical to his country, but with his fitness. Guardado has just four full 90 minute performances for Mexico dating back to October of 2016, missing time with ankle, leg, and now hamstring injuries in that span.

The 31-year-old has had a fine season so far for Real Betis, scoring one goal and assisting six while appearing in all 15 La Liga matches for the club thus far. The club sits 12th in the La Liga table with 18 points.

Guardado will be fine with plenty of time to spare, but if not fully healed properly, there’s always the risk that muscle injuries can flare back up, and Mexico fans will hope that their captain’s club gives him plenty of rest to recover.

Mark Hughes wants Stoke City to “suck it up”

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Mark Hughes is under fire at Stoke City with the Potters firmly entrenched in the relegation battle, and with that he’s charging his players, staff, and himself to gut the rest of the season out.

With Stoke heading to Turf Moor to take on Burnley, they sit just three points above the drop. The players were faced with jeers from angry fans at the train station following this past weekend’s 5-1 disaster against Tottenham. The fiery Hughes is hoping to use this jarring moment to jolt his squad.

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“That is still resonating. It’s good we have a game because it is still fresh in their ears probably, and they can use it as a motivating factor,” said Hughes during his pre-match press conference.

“You either suck it up and do ­something about it or you go under, and we can’t accept players like that. I don’t feel we have players like that.”

With managers nowadays often reaching into the excuses barrel as they hope to save their own skins, Hughes refuses to do just that, instead placing the decision firmly on the players shoulders, telling them they are the only ones who can save the club.

“Maybe some hadn’t ­confronted that before – but sometimes you need a reality check, and understand how our results and ­performances affect people,” Hughes said. “When people criticize you, you have to grow a thick skin in this industry. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong place.”

Louis van Gaal calls Mourinho’s United “far more boring”

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Louis Van Gaal has picked just the right time to pipe up.

The former Manchester United manager, who took flak while in charge for his side being hideous to watch, has now taken shots of his own at his successor Jose Mourinho, kicking Manchester United while they’re down after a 2-1 derby defeat at home.

The Dutchman told Fox Sports Netherlands, “If you ask me how did I do at United, I will say it was my best year ever, given the circumstances I was working under. We played football that was quite alright. But it’s not football that is appreciated in England. And yet, right now, looking at United, I have to conclude Mourinho is not being criticized while it’s far more boring football.”

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Van Gaal was blasted consistently for playing a boring style, especially in front of the home crowd, and now Mourinho is being criticized for the same concept. Mourinho was denounced for similar reasons while in charge of Chelsea, but with the club winning multiple titles under his leadership, the noise was always less while the team was winning. With Manchester United still unable to crack the top 4, Mourinho is feeling the heat.

“What United produce now is defensive football,” van Gaal said. “I always played attacking football. The proof is that the opposition were always parking the bus. They don’t do that now because Jose Mourinho plays so defensive.”

To van Gaal’s point, Manchester United is seventh in the Premier League in possession, holding 51% possession this season. They were out-possessed by Manchester City 65-35 at Old Trafford over the weekend. Meanwhile, van Gaal’s last full season with Manchester United, the 2015/16 season, saw the Red Devils hold 54%, which ranked third in the Premier League, just a percentage point behind leaders Arsenal. However, van Gaal’s United ranked 15th in the Premier League in total shots, while Mourinho’s United this season ranks sixth at this point.

Van Gaal made sure to point out he prefers their cross-town rivals.

“I would rather watch City play than United. You need quality in a squad and it’s clear City have a better squad.”

Conte blames fatigue for dip in Chelsea form

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Antonio Conte has figured out what is plaguing his Chelsea side as they sit 14 points back of Premier League leaders Manchester City.

“I think when you play every three days, it is impossible to have a training session and to work on the physical aspects,” Conte said in his pre-match press conference as the Blues get set to play Huddersfield Town on Tuesday. “It’s impossible. It’s impossible because you have to prepare with the players for a game every three days.”

Chelsea has yet to find itself eliminated from a single competition, drawn against Barcelona in the Champions League while navigating fixtures across all four competitions.

And yet, this is nothing new for Conte. The Blues boss is more than familiar with fixture congestion, having taken charge of Juventus and regularly competing at a high level on multiple fronts. In 2012/13, he won the Serie A title, won the Supercoppa Italia, and reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

However, this is new for Conte at Chelsea. Last season, the Blues did not take part in a European competition thanks to their disastrous season the previous year. While they reached the FA Cup final, they were knocked out of the EFL Cup in the 4th round.

“We have to try to do our best,” Conte said. “For sure, some players can be tired, that’s normal because some players are playing from this summer and our tours in China and Singapore. It’s normal. But I repeat we have to find the best solution. We have to find more rotations. I’m doing this, we will try and do our best with hunger and desire. We will fight.”

As an example, Conte said Alvaro Morata will miss the match on Tuesday against Huddersfield Town due to fatigue, with the Spaniard battling a slight back injury. “Morata is out. He is a bit tired and he has a problem in his back.