Uruguay v England was the game of hope: two teams, under Oscar Tabarez and Roy Hodgson, both needing three points to keep their dreams alive. One country was pinning their hopes on the goals of the Pistolero, coming off of a knee injury, while the other country was expecting Wayne Rooney to finally break his World Cup duck.
Both players came through, but Suarez managed it more than once. And with tears of joy in his eyes he condemned England to a second successive defeat, leaving their chances of going through hanging by a thread.
It was a magical night for the Celeste, and Bianconeri defender Martin Caceres was once again entrusted with patrolling the right flank from the opening minute, where he enjoyed some spirited battles with Baines, Welbeck and Henderson.
The match was intense, consisting of furious bursts of energy, yet balanced tactically. The mutual studying was interrupted on 31 minutes when Wayne Rooney crashed a header off the crossbar. Just eight minutes later Suarez responded at the other end with a header of his own, but a more accurate one in this case, as he nodded home Cavani’s cross. The Uruguayan fans could hardly contain their joy, and neither could Suarez – understandable considering how his mere presence in this tournament was in doubt just a few short weeks ago.
In the dressing room Hodgson decided to make no changes, and nor did Tabarez, although both certainly encouraged their respective teams to play the second half of their lives.
For the first ten minutes of the second period it was as if England weren't even on the pitch at all: Uruguay not only counter-attacked, but also threw numbers forward in search of a second goal. At one point Alvaro Pereira seemed an embodiment of the Celeste’s character when he refused to be substituted off after lying unconscious on the pitch for several moments following a clash with Raheem Sterling.
A few minutes later another chapter was added to the Rooney v Suarez contest. The Englishman finally ended a scoreless streak in the World Cup finals that had run for 759 minutes as he tapped in a slick assist from Glen Johnson in the 75th minute. But it was cruelly cancelled out nine minutes later when Gerrard inadvertently headed the ball towards his own box, leaving an alert Suarez to pounce. The forward was quickly 1-v-1 with Hart and made no mistake, blasting the ball over the keeper’s right shoulder and into the back of the net. Two goals from two shots, and his fifth in seven World Cup matches.
Over the course of the game Caceres hit four crosses for his team-mates – more than any other Uruguayan player – and also led the team in balls won. At the same time, the Bianconeri wide man played 61 balls, just one fewer than Pereira, who topped the category for his side.
It was the opposite of the previous meeting between the two nations, in March of 2006, when the English let in the first goal but still came out on top 2-1. This time, at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, the South Americans were the ones celebrating at the final whistle.
On Tuesday, Caceres will be facing his Bianconeri team-mates Buffon, Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli, Pirlo and Marchisio in Group D’s final match, scheduled for 6:00 pm at the Arena das Dunas in Natal.