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FIFA World Cup: British press slams England for sloppy performance

London: England are simply not good enough to compete against the best teams and are just too sloppy to pull off their new expansive approach, Britain's press said Friday.

Steven Gerrard
England captain Steven Gerrard has come under criticism for his performance in the game against Uruguay

Following at 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in Sao Paulo on Thursday that left their World Cup hopes relying on other results, England have shown they cannot handle the pressure when faced with serious opposition, national newspapers said. Wayne Rooney scored for Roy Hodgson's England, between two emphatically-finished goals by Uruguay's Luis Suarez.

England's loss came after their opening 2-1 defeat to Italy in Manaus and now their tournament in Brazil rests on Italy beating Uruguay and Costa Rica, and England beating the Central Americans by a sufficient scoreline to qualify from Group D. The Daily Mail said England's defensive frailty had been their undoing, leaving the team unable to handle the World Cup pressure. "Sloppy, intimidated, scared," said the tabloid. "England will need to be the first team in World Cup history to lose their opening two games and go through, if they are to qualify," the tabloid said.

"It won't happen, most likely, because there is no guarantee England can win, even against Costa Rica, with a defence that cannot be trusted, not even for five minutes. "Suarez did the damage, but England were struggling for most of the game. Their performance had been stilted and blunt as the first against Italy was enterprising and zesty. Simply, they could not handle the pressure. Chances were wasted, tackles were missed, the defence and goalkeeper were on edge from the start." "Another one bites the dust", said The Sun. 

The Guardian said England had mostly looked ragged and their history of being "shown up" once they face top opposition had resurfaced. "After four years of planning, all that emotional commitment and all the anticipation that always attaches itself to this tournament, England's World Cup has unravelled in the space of five traumatic days," the paper said.

"A draw when Italy play Costa Rica on Friday will confirm another deeply unsatisfactory tournament and Hodgson will be acutely aware that the inquest this time will be far less sympathetic." The Times said captain Steven Gerrard was the fall guy, England paying a high price for two of his errors. "The brave new world that we have been asked to buy into, built around a more expansive approach, was never likely to bring spectacular dividends at this World Cup, particularly once England were placed in such a difficult group," the paper said. "But in their first two matches their efforts have been undermined by sloppiness in all areas of the pitch."

The Daily Telegraph said Suarez had condemned England to "humiliation". The Independent said England suffered from a "lack of requisite class" on the world stage. "England simply lost the vigour they had found in Manaus and went back to the functionality which they had put in the past," it said. "The hope seems forlorn. "England are a moderately good football nation who can hold their own against most but scrape into the world's top 10 for a reason."

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