Luis Suarez Proves the Difference to Leave England's World Cup Hopes in Tatters

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2014

"We're more than disappointed, we're devastated."

Talking with reporters, Roy Hodgson's summary of the mood in the England dressing room reflected that of a nation after England were undone by Luis Suarez and Uruguay, losing 2-1 in Sao Paulo to leave their World Cup dream all but over.

England face Costa Rica in their final Group D match needing victory, while Italy must also win their remaining two games to give them any chance of progressing into the last 16.

Speaking to ITV Sport in the game's immediate aftermath, Hodgson couldn't ignore the Suarez factor, either, describing him as a "world-class striker."

If anything, that's an understatement, and as Hodgson and his players travel back to Rio de Janeiro, they will lament the fact they do not have a player of Suarez's ability in their own line-up.

Despite two defeats, this has been a World Cup of positives for England. A new breed of players have been brought in to take the team forward, showing glimpses of what they're capable of.

In Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Ross Barkley and Danny Welbeck, England have a generation of stars who will serve them well in the coming years.

England suddenly have pace, enthusiasm and, above all else, youthful talent that is beginning to squeeze out the old guard.

They're able to take games to the opposition in a way we haven't seen for a long while.

What they are lacking, however, is the killer instinct a player of Suarez's ability brings, and until they find it, England will continue to be disappointed at major tournaments.

All week the headlines had been dominated by Suarez: Would he be fit or not after undergoing knee surgery just a month ago?

And if he started, would it be the clinical Suarez we often see in a Liverpool shirt?

On 39 minutes, we got our answer, as the Uruguay No. 9 drifted into the England box unmarked to nod home the game's opening goal, connecting expertly with Edinson Cavani's beautifully floated cross.

England had more than matched Uruguay up to that point; Wayne Rooney even hit the bar from close range.

When given his chances, though, Suarez was on hand to punish England, and he did it again with six minutes remaining, just when Hodgson's men thought they would go on to take all three points after Rooney's equalizer.

In 2010, England conceded an embarrassing goal to Germany when a simple long ball forward from Manuel Neuer in goal caught out the centre-backs, leaving Miroslav Klose to slide in and score.

Suarez's winner wasn't as damning, but it was equally disappointing.

Is there a better player in world football at picking up on mistakes and punishing them than Suarez?

— Jack (@JackWatson_) June 19, 2014

Fernando Muslera's hopeful punt was flicked on by Steven Gerrard, and before the England defenders could stop him, Suarez fired home what proved to be the winner.

Whereas Klose's goal in 2010 was farcical in the extreme, Suarez's was more about his own genius, strolling into an offside position in the hope it would be Gerrard making the decisive connection and not Cavani, who challenged him.

Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka were outwitted, and England's World Cup hopes are all but vanquished as a result.

Throughout the 90 minutes against Uruguay, England dominated the stats: 63 per cent possession and 12 shots, six of which were on target.

It all counts for very little, however. Uruguay—or more to the point, Suarez—tested Joe Hart twice and on each occasion scored.

Suarez was the difference, and fully match fit or not, he made England pay the ultimate price.

Indeed, he could have had more goals, too, coming close to scoring twice from corners as he tried to catch Hart out at his near post.

It was audacious and what we have come to expect from the player Gerrard described as a "genius" in his pre-match press conference, per The Guardian.

That very genius has destroyed England's World Cup hopes, and until they find a Suarez of their own, Three Lions fans will have to get used to this feeling.


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