SAO PAULO – Gp D: Uruguay 2, England 1

—- It had to be him. Luis Suarez displayed his own magical powers of recovery with the two goals which infused similar spirit into his own Uruguayan team-mates. England were left to confront another World Cup burial in Belo Horizonte, 64 years after the first writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Uruguay were as powerful magnificent against England as they had been lazily inefficient in their opening defeat against Costa Rica. England contested every minute of this second Group D challenge and every inch of pitch. But the outcome revealed that human sporting spirit is far more than mere statistics.

Roy Hodgson’s men boasted more possession and more passes ‘completed’ and with more accuracy. But Uruguay, subjectively, were the better team, better organised in defence and midfield and deserved their redemption.

Luis Suarez: All set for the game of his life . . . so far

Wayne Rooney, in the closing stages, appeared to have snatched a World Cup lifeline for England. But Suarez, having opened the scoring in the first half, despatched England ruthlessly on the counter-attack five minutes from the end of normal time.

After the fuss and furore about whether Rooney should play and, if he did, in which role, Hodgson made no change in personnel. Oscar Washington Tabarez, however, made several alteratins from the team embarrassed by Costa Rica.

Suarez, replacing Diego Forlan in attack for the Celeste, put

Initial assaults

England under early pressure and earned a couple of corners. When England made their initial forays Rooney curled a free kick inches wide of Fernando Muslera’s right hand post with the keeper immobile on his line.

Uruguay were a new team. Cristian Rodriguez cracked an angled drive an inch or so too high and Edinson Cavani slashed a first-time shot over the bar from a right-wing corner by Suarez.

England had only their occasional moments. Skipper Steven Gerrard floated a left-wing free kick to the far post and the ball flashed against the bar off the combined heads of the leaping Rooney and Martin Caceres.

The evident truth was that Uruguay were finding more creatve space. That paid in the 39th minute when they broke through the centre, Cavani crossed into the penalty box over Phil Jagielka and Suarez, with remarkable balance, headed out beyond Joe Hart’s right hand.

Danny Welbeck drew a sharp save from Muslera as England chased the quick response. Uruguay conceded four corners in quick succession and defended them all resolutely.

After the interval England, instead of maintaining the pursuit, were rocked back as Uruguay who hit the ground running in pursuit of a killing second goal.

Off target

England lived dangerously and were saved by goalline technology when Hart beat out one shot at his right-hand post. Moments later Cavani should have scored after striding through on the left, pulling his shot wide of Hart’s left hand but wide also of the post.

England, suddenly seeing the danger of an instant end to their World Cup campaign, finally woke up. Rooney, controlling with his right foot and shooting with his left, was brilliantly foiled by Muslera.

This was do or die stuff, played with incredible energy and commitment.

Alvaro Pereira typified the spirit on both sides. Knocked briefly unconscious in a tangle with Daniel Sturridge, he raged at the medical staff to let him back into battle.

England threw on Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana for the battle-weary Sterling and Welbeck. Fresh legs brought extra impetus and Glen Johnson finally broke through on the right and crossed to the far post where Rooney was quicker than Muslera to shot home left footed.

Daniel Sturridge was once held back in a tangle of arms then had another shot saved by Muslera.

Hanging on

Uruguay, gaining in confidence, came again and it was England who were hanging on. Then, the defining moment. England were caught upfield, Muslera lofted the ball far down the right and there was Suarez in the angled space he loves

He accelerated into the penalty box, took one touch and rifled home to leave England’s fate resting, mathematically, with Costa Rica who have yet to play Italy.

The likelihood is that England will be heading for home, whatever the result against Los Ticos in Belo Horizonte . . . where they succumbed back in 1950 to the United States.