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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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.
Uruguay: Muslera; Pereira, Godín, Jimenez, Cáceres; Rodríguez, Gargano, Ríos, Lodeiro; Suárez, Cavani.
England: Hart; Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Gerrard, Henderson; Welbeck, Sterling, Rooney; Sturridge.
- 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?