I was one of those people who said Uruguay wouldn’t miss Suárez that badly against Costa Rica, because this team was good enough to win without him. After all, they still had Edinson Cavani, Cristhian Stuani and even the aging Diego Forlán up front and able to score goals. After that debacle, and what we saw yesterday, it’s obvious that Luis Suárez is simply irreplaceable (How can it be permissible?). What a game he had yesterday. He has proven that he is the bombilla that stirs Uruguay’s mate, and he might just be the best player in the world.
I don’t want to take away from the other changes that coach Óscar Tabárez made before this game, so let’s start there. “El Maestro” really changed up the entire pitch for this game, and although it wasn’t necessarily by choice in some places, all of the changes he made helped get the win. Starting on the back line, Uruguay was down two defenders in this one, as Maxi Pereira was suspended following his red card in the closing minutes of the Costa Rica game, and Captain Diego Lugano was out with a knee injury. Tabárez went with Alvaro “Palito” Pereira in place of Maxi (no relation), and 19-year old José María Giménez, who plays for Atlético Madrid, to replace Lugano. Giménez, making his World Cup debut, played wonderfully, and Pereira filled in admirably, even getting knocked unconscious at one point and staying in to finish (kudos to British announcers on this one, as they first sarcastically razzed Pereira for faking yet another convenient Uruguayan injury, and then clumsily apologized when they realized Pereira was out cold… stay classy).
In the middle, Tabárez replaced Walter Gargano and Stuani, who were largely uncreative in the Costa Rica game, with Alváro González and Nicolás Lodeiro. Lodeiro especially had a good game, as his steal set up the pass that set up the first goal, and the offense seemed to flow a lot better with those two in the middle and Cristian Rodríguez moved over to the left wing, where he could be more effective as well.
The biggest change Tabárez made was a definite no-brainer, as he sat Forlán and plugged Suárez back into the starting eleven. When you grease the gears a little bit, and throw in a monster engine up front, the offense is going to be more successful, and that’s exactly what happened in this game. Don’t get me wrong, Uruguay still had some problems with Cavani’s finishing, and missed a couple of opportunities to really put this game away, but overall they looked invigorated in this game, especially at the start of the second half.
OK now that that’s all out of the way, let’s heap some more lavish praise on Luis Suárez, which is why we’re all here anyway. In case you forgot, the man had arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a meniscus problem barely a month ago. This was his first game back, and the first full-speed test for that knee. No one expected him to be at 100%, and I’m not sure he was; that being said, Súarez’s 60% is better than most of the people who were on the pitch yesterday afternoon, and it showed. He was simply brilliant in this game.
The first goal, which came in the 39th minute, was a definite team effort. As I mentioned earlier, Lodeiro stole the ball from Gerrard in the middle of the pitch and passed it to a wide open Cavani on the left flank, just outside the box. English defenders somehow lost track of Suárez, who sneaked behind them towards the right of the goal. Cavani waited and chipped an absolutely perfect ball, over four defenders and right to Suárez, who headed it back over English goalie Joe Hart‘s left shoulder and into the left corner of the net. The entire play was an absolute thing of beauty, and Uruguay had the 1-0 lead heading into the half.
Uruguay came out firing in the second half, although they were unable to score. Then English national team history was made: in the 75th minute, Wayne Rooney somehow got to a low cross by Glen Johnson and tapped the ball past Fernando Muslera for the equalizer. It was Rooney’s first career World Cup goal, a feat that had been eluding him for eight long years. It seemed like Rooney might never score, as he missed three easy chances earlier in this game by maybe a combined three feet. All the haters can stop hating on him now. He finally got his goal. It’s too bad for him they still lost, but at least now everyone can stop blaming him for England’s problems.
The tie wouldn’t last too long. Just nine minutes later, in the 84th, Fernando Muslera booted a goal kick deep into the British half. Steven Gerrard (working hard to replace Rooney as the most hated man in England) tried to head it, but the ball went off his head and back towards his own goal. Guess who was there on the right flank? Yep… Suárez. The King of Uruguay got the ball with the entire defense several yards behind him, and it was on like Donkey Kong. Like an old timey Undertaker measuring the corpse of the loser of a duel, he took one look at the goal to gauge where Hart and the left post were before putting his head back down and blistering a shot past the helpless English goalie. Sure, Suárez got lucky that Gerrard forgot they weren’t teammates in this one and basically set him up perfectly to score, but nobody finishes like Luis Súarez. Hart never stood a chance.
That was the one scream I couldn’t hold back. Like many working men, I was unable to take the day off to watch this game, but I did the next best thing. I grabbed my work-provided Roku and my 24-inch HD display and basically barricaded myself in a guest office, not really telling anyone where I was. I had even sent out some bad information that I’d be leaving the office to head to a local bar to watch, just so nobody would even look for me. I gave away my position when Suárez found the net for the second time, but it was all worth it, as Uruguay ran out the clock for the 2-1 win.
After the match Suárez, in tears, said he had dreamed about this game. “Lo soñé,” said the much maligned Suárez, “la verdad es que lo estoy disfrutando por todas las críticas que recibí. Bueno, acá tienen.”a For those of you who didn’t bring your Spanish/English disctionary, that basically means “I dreamt it. Truthfully, I am enjoying this because of all the criticisms I received. Well, there you have it.”
You hear that, England? There you f*cking have it. Don’t piss off Luis Súarez! Here’s hoping the Italians have been talking trash about him too, cuz they’re up next on Tuesday. Arriba la Celeste! Check out the goals below.
Suárez Opens up the Scoring:
Rooney Ties it Up:
Suárez for the Win:
Featured image courtesy of: Reuters
- http://mundial.telam.com.ar/notas/201406/68020-suarez-uruguay.html (back)
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