England’s hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of the World Cup are hanging by a thread after they suffered a second consecutive defeat in Group D, losing 2-1 to Uruguay.
A Luis Suarez brace, the second of which coming just five minutes from time, was the difference between the two teams on the night, leaving Roy Hodgson’s side in serious danger of facing elimination at the group stage.
With both sides having lost their opening games in the tournament there was plenty at stake, and it was all too apparent during the opening stages as the attacking players on show struggled to impact proceedings.
Gary Cahill started for the Three Lions, who came closest to breaking the deadlock when Wayne Rooney’s curling free-kick whistled inches past the post with Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera rooted to the spot.
Cristian Rodriguez and Edinson Cavani both fired over in quick succession for the South American side, with Cahill then producing a well-timed tackle to thwart the Paris Saint-Germain striker as he looked to latch on to a Suarez pass.
There was little to choose between the teams, and Rooney thought he’d given England the lead once again when he arrived at the far post to meet a Steven Gerrard cross, only to see it come back off the bar and bounce away to safety.
The breakthrough came seven minutes before the half-time as Uruguay broke at pace; Cavani supplied the cross and Suarez, who had drifted away from Phil Jagielka, directed his header beyond Joe Hart into the far corner.
After falling behind to Italy on Saturday England’s response was instant, and they almost hit back straight away again when former Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge saw a fierce left-footed drive saved at the near post by Muslera.
It was Uruguay, however, who started the second half brighter and they should have extended their advantage when Cavani, clean through on goal, steered his strike past the far post.
England weathered the storm, with Cahill producing a couple of brilliant defensive headers, and gradually began to work themselves back into the game.
The introduction of Ross Barkley, at the expense of Raheem Sterling, gave Hodgson’s side added impetus, and with 15 minutes remaining they equalised. Sturridge and Glen Johnson combined down the right-hand side and the defender’s cross arrived at the feet of Rooney who couldn’t miss.
It looked as though there was only one team who were going to go on and win the game but, against the run of play, Uruguay restored their lead.
A long clearance by Muslera skimmed the top of Gerrard’s head; Suarez was quickest to react and, with only Hart to beat, he fired his strike into the roof of the net to seal the victory.
To stand any chance of emerging from the group England, for whom Frank Lampard was an unused substitute, must now beat Costa Rica next Tuesday and hope Italy win both of their remaining two matches.
In the day’s earlier game Colombia beat Ivory Coast 2-1.