The 2014 World Cup has already been one for the ages, but both Uruguay and England had hopes of making it even more compelling after their stunning match on Thursday.
Uruguay enjoyed a stellar performance from Luis Suarez in their 2-1 defeat of England, and now England are in uncharted territory. ESPN Stats & Info's Twitter account highlighted the implications of the shocking defeat:
England loses twice in the Group Stage of a #WorldCup for the first time since 1950, also in Brazil (lost 1-0 to both USA and Spain).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 19, 2014
England looked far better in this one than they did against Italy—in the second half, at least—but it still wasn't enough to overcome a determined Uruguay squad.
Now, England has their backs to the wall. Is there still a chance for them to advance into the knockout stage? Read on to find some analysis and group implications following the 2-1 result.
Suarez single-handedly took care of business against England, netting two goals—one on a header, and one on an absolute missile on a defensive lapse by England. For a while, though, it looked like this one was headed to a draw.
There weren't many chances early in the match, and even the chances that did present themselves ended in failure. Wayne Rooney, who had yet to score in 10 World Cup matches, missed a point-blank header that would have given England the early lead. Martin Rogers of Yahoo Sports claimed that the miss was one of the biggest disappointments for the team:
Rooney header against the post was a big disappointment for #ENG, desperately need a confidence boost— Martin Rogers (@mrogersyahoo) June 19, 2014
Through about 35 minutes, England were taking care of possession and getting a few chances on net. Just two minutes later, though, Suarez struck first. He took a beautiful lob from Edinson Cavani and headed it into the back corner of the net.
England started the second half hot. Rooney missed yet another point-blank shot, and it seemed like he was destined to never score on the game's biggest stage. That changed in the 75th minute, when the veteran finally netted a goal:
Glen Johnson delivered a beautiful pass that Rooney was able to handle and push past Fernando Muslera. The game then seemed headed to a draw, but Suarez wasn't finished.
After Muslera punted the ball deep, the ball was flicked ahead to Suarez. Recognizing a lapse in the defense, Suarez struck it powerfully into the back of the net.
Uruguay's defense was stellar throughout. After a poor showing against Costa Rica, the Uruguayans really turned it on against England. With the World Cup essentially on the line for both teams, Uruguay proved the more worthy squad.
Without Suarez, the match may have ended differently. He didn't play against Costa Rica, so perhaps the world's best striker is really what makes the offense go. Having him on the pitch is a confidence booster for the entire squad, so the training staff must make sure he is fit to go in future matches.
England are hoping for a miracle. Sky Sports tweeted the only scenario that would keep them alive:
They'll also need to beat Costa Rica to advance, but not just in the match. They'll also need to beat Costa Rica on goal differential. That means Italy need to beat them down. That also means England need to beat them down. The chances of that are slim.
The winner of Italy vs. Costa Rica will claim the top spot in Group D, meaning that they will likely advance.
The match to watch that will dictate the final standing of this group is Italy vs. Uruguay. These two teams go head-to-head on June 24. By then, we'll have a much better idea of how this group will finish.