World Cup roundup: Suarez goals spark Uruguay
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | June 20,2014
Uruguay’s Nicolas Lodeiro is tripped up by England’s Wayne Rooney during the group D World Cup soccer match between Uruguay and England at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Thursday.
SAO PAULO — Luis Suarez scored twice to give Uruguay a 2-1 victory over England at the World Cup on Thursday, making an instant impact on his return from injury to revive his team’s Group D campaign.
The striker lashed in the winner in the 85th minute, after seeing his first-half opener canceled out by Wayne Rooney. The win gave Uruguay’s qualifying chances a major lift and left England’s hopes of advancing to the round of 16 in real jeopardy.
Suarez, who hadn’t played for more than a month after undergoing knee surgery, is the Uruguay player who knows this England side best, having played for Liverpool for more than three years.
And by taking his World Cup tally to five goals, Suarez ensured that Rooney’s first-ever goal on football’s biggest stage was in vain at his third tournament.
Rooney tapped the ball home from close range in the 75th minute after connecting with Glen Johnson’s pass. Having also lost against Italy, England now faces the prospect of not advancing from the group stage for the first time since 1958.
Group D leader Italy and Costa Rica, who both have three points, meet for their second group game on Friday. Uruguay now has three points, having lost its opener to the Costa Ricans, while England is on zero points after consecutive defeats following its losing start to Italy.
It is in the England where Suarez has stepped up a level and powered in the goals that saw him voted the Premier League’s best player last season. And despite lacking sharpness at times, he still managed to recapture the scoring form that helped Liverpool finish second last season with 31 goals.
Suarez was in the thick of the action in the opening minutes against an edgy England side. Goalkeeper Joe Hart’s first save came after Suarez’s cross-shot was deflected off the head of Gary Cahill.
As England was struggling to contain Uruguay, the first blow came just before halftime when Diego Godin picked up possession on the halfway line and sprayed it to Edinson Cavani on the left. Suarez easily evaded Phil Jagielka to head over Hart, seizing on defensive lapses just as Mario Balotelli did in Italy’s win.
Sturridge had a chance to quickly cancel out his Liverpool teammate’s goal but was denied at the far post.
Uruguay could have extended its lead at the start of the second half, with Suarez’s corner appearing to be curling into the net until Hart batted the ball away, and Cavani cutting in from the left but only slicing the shot wide.
Although after several chances, Rooney ended his World Cup hoodoo it was rendered meaningless by Suarez’s devastating final touch.
Suarez’s Liverpool teammate, England captain Steven Gerrard, tried to clear a long punt by Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, and the ball glanced off the head of midfielder and back toward his own goal. Suarez ran onto it and beat Hart with a right-footed shot from about nine yards.
Now it is Uruguay back on track going into its game against Italy on Tuesday, when England faces a must-win match against Costa Rica.
Colombia 2, Ivory Coast 1
BRASILIA, Brazil — Colombia moved to the verge of qualifying for the World Cup’s knockout stage on Thursday, beating Ivory Coast 2-1 after scoring twice in a devastating six-minute spell in the second half.
Driven on by a partisan pro-Colombian crowd inside the Estadio Nacional, the South Americans went ahead through James Rodriguez’s powerful header from a corner in the 64th minute before substitute Juan Quintero added a second on a break following a defensive error.
Colombia held onto its lead, despite a brilliant 73rd-minute goal by Gervinho, for a second straight win in Group C. Colombia almost assured of reaching the second round for the time in the country’s history. Since 1998, every team that has earned six points in the group stage has advanced.
Instead of Radamel Falcao, the brilliant Monaco striker who was ruled out through injury before the tournament, the most important factor in Colombia’s march through the group stage has arguably been its amazing support.
With supporters wearing yellow shirts dominating the stadium, it was effectively an away game for the Ivorians who remain on three points after their 2-1 opening win over Japan.
”It was extraordinary,” Rodriguez said, “it was very much in our favor that Colombia could win.”
The crowd roared with relief at the final whistle after Ivory Coast’s strong finish.
“I must say that we didn’t deserve to lose,” Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi said. “It was very experienced Colombia team who waited for us to make mistakes.”
With Yaya Toure starting flatly and Didier Drogba again starting on the bench, Ivory Coast threatened only through long-range shots in a first half marked by a comic moment when a large inflatable ball bounced onto the playing surface, causing a brief stoppage.
The best chance of the first half was spurned by Teofilo Gutierrez, who miscued a volley with the goal at his mercy after being perfectly set up by Rodriguez’s left-wing cross in the 28th.
Juan Cuadrado lit up a cagey opening to the second half by bringing down a long pass, shimmying past his marker and rifling a powerful shot that was tipped onto the crossbar by goalkeeper Boubacar Barry. Inside a stadium named after 1960s World Cup star Mane Garrincha, it was a piece of right-wing trickery that the Brazil great would have enjoyed.
Drogba entered on the hour, to a mixture of jeers and applause, but he was found wanting in the leadup to Rodriguez’s goal four minutes later, the playmaker beating him to Cuadrado’s corner and heading powerfully into the net for his second goal of the tournament.
The celebrations had hardly died down when Ivory Coast midfielder Serey Die was dispossessed inside his own half, allowing Gutierrez to create a chance for Quintero, who made no mistake with a side-foot finish.
In a frenetic last quarter of the match, Ivory Coast driven by Drogba finished strongly.
Gervinho’s goal was one of the best pieces of individual skill so far at this World Cup, the Roma winger skipping between two defenders, cutting inside a third and beating David Ospina at his near post. But there was to be no equalizer.
Greece 0, Japan 0
NATAL, Brazil — Reduced to 10 men after captain Costas Katsouranis was sent off in the 38th minute with his second booking, Greece held on for a 0-0 draw with Japan on Thursday that keeps both alive in Group C and sends rival Colombia to the next round of the World Cup.
Both teams inserted new strikers in search of goals and a first victory, but ultimately the goal was survival and both did that with one match left in group play. Japan would have been eliminated with a loss.
Once Katsouaranis was sent off after a rough challenge on Makoto Hasebe, Greece withdrew into a defensive setup and held firm. Greece surrendered three goals in a loss to Colombia, but even short-handed was better organized against Japan and avoided any critical mistakes.