More World Cup Surprises: England on the Verge of Exit
As expected, the 2014 World Cup has been a truly enjoyable competition.
The goals have kept flowing and there have been a lot of surprises as some nations head closer to the exit door while for some others, their fates are already sealed. When Holland, Spain, Chile and Australia were paired in the same group, everyone expected the last World Cup finalists to excel from the group, leaving the likes of Chile and Australia for dead. As things panned out, Vincente del Bosque’s tenure might be coming to an abrupt end as his tiki-taka hordes crashed out at the first hurdle, along with Australia that gave a good account of themselves, unlike the lethargic Spaniards.
Cameroon’s humiliating defeat to Croatia also brought the African nation to the end of the line, and one must wonder how many goals they would go put in a basket when they play the hosts pretty soon. Yesterday, the two losers from Group D in the first round of fixtures, England and Uruguay, locked horns in what promised to be an exciting encounter. The English Premier League was dominated by a certain Uruguayan and he was deemed fit to start the game.
The English lads almost broke the deadlock when Shrek swung a free kick missed by a lick of paint as the goalie, Fernando Muslera, was rooted to the spot. Uruguay responded with a swift counter attack and when the ball fell for Christian Rodriguez, he lashed his shot over the bar. Despite the fact that Shrek has scored over 40 goals in 94 international caps for England, he had not scored in the World Cup and when his goal-bound header hit the cross bar, it seemed as if it was a curse from beyond that he was never going to score.
With Rooney and England failing to take the initiative, Suarez showed em’ how it’s done when he latched on to a dinked Edinson Cavani pass to nod the ball across a hapless Joe Hart.
It had a bittersweet feeling bearing in mind that Suarez is a player that’s adored in England when he’s wearing the Red of Liverpool, but at the World Cup, it was a different proposition. At half time, the stats showed that England had more possession but the scoreline didn’t reflect their dominance in the first 45 minutes.
In the second half, there was no real penetration from both sides early on but the game sprang to life when Suarez of all people skewed a shot wide. Shortly afterwards, Edinson Cavani was clean on goal but he placed his shot wide. Leighton Baines drilled a cross that was anticipated by the goalie but Danny Welbeck inadvertently collided with Muslera, causing the Uruguayan shot stopper some pain.
A scary moment arrived when Raheem Sterling accidentally knocked Alvaro Perreira out with his knee and the stadium held its breath as the full back laid flat on the turf without responding. After some treatment from the physios, he was clearly concussed and there was some advice for him to be replaced but he opted to stay on the pitch.
England’s pressure finally paid off when a delightful attacking move saw Glen Johnson tee up Shrek for an easy tap in.
England was on the ascendancy and Danny Sturridge tried to side-foot the ball with his weaker right foot but the goalie was on hand to make a comfortable save. When the Uruguay decided he had seen enough from the clearly concussed Pereira, he was replaced with Jorge Fucile.
With five minutes in the clock left to play, the game clincher was made in Liverpool as the unfortunate Steven Gerrard challenged Cavani for an aerial duel but he ended up nodding the ball to Suarez that fired a blistering strike past Hart.
Suarez was later withdrawn but the damage had been done. Right at the death, Gerrard tried to atone for his error but he blasted the ball wide. Hart even arrived in the box for a corner kick but it was not to be as Uruguay held on to get three vital points. This ultimately means that England’s hopes of reaching the second knockout round hinges entirely on Italy, as they would be hoping for the Italians to win Costa Rica today and Uruguay on the final day.
The permutations have been set in place but it seems more likely for England to crash out rather than qualify. Well this is the World Cup, you’d never know.
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