Wayne Rooney vs Luis Suarez
Rooney came into the match with 39 goals for England, but without having scored any at World Cup finals. He came so close to ending that run in the 10th minute with a 22-yard free-kick and saw a header ricochet off the crossbar, before Luis Suarez opened the scoring. Having seen a low strike denied by Fernando Muslera, he finally broke his duck, stabbing home a Glen Johnson shot from close range.
Suarez almost caught Joe Hart out twice low at the near post direct from a clever corners. And he made England pay with his first chance. He peeled off Phil Jagielka to meet Cavani’s perfectly-flighted cross and sent his header back across goal and inside Hart’s right-hand post. He dragged a second-half chance wide, but was deadly accurate as he pounced on Gerrard’s misplaced header and lashed home the winner.
Rooney came under intense scrutiny for his muted performance in the 1-2 defeat to Italy on Saturday despite being played in an unfavoured role on the left flank. Nevertheless he created more chances than any other English player and provided an assist to boot. He again looked lively in Sao Paulo, with his directness and ability to spray the ball about causing problems.
Suarez was at the centre of all of his side’s attacking endeavours, showing the subtlety and guile his teammates had lacked in their first game. He linked up very well with Edinson Cavani. England’s defence struggled to cope with the combination between the pair. Indeed, Suarez’s return seemed to have a positive affect across the team, who all looked sharper and closed down quicker.
Rooney was England’s best player on the night, but his missed opportunities ended up playing a major role in the defeat. His delight at ending his wait for a World Cup goal was clear and his hard work was never in doubt, but it was just a shame he could not have scored earlier.
Uruguay may not be a one-man team, but are pretty close to one on this showing. They were a totally different side to the one which were so poor against Costa Rica and that was down in large part to Suarez. Two clinical finishes from him were the difference against England.
5 Shots that Wayne Rooney attempted against Uruguay
6 Shots that Luis Suarez attempted against England