World Cup Roundup: Uruguay downs EnglandTwo goals from Luis Suarez put England in danger of elimination
The Uruguayan star returned to the lineup with a bang, scoring twice to help the South Americans defeat England, 2-1. The result pushed the English to the precipice of elimination.
Suarez, who sat out the first match with an injury, breathed life into Uruguay with a gorgeous headed goal in the 39th minute. Edinson Cavani lofted a perfect pass over the head of defender Phil Jagielka, and Suarez finished by heading across the grain into the net.
The Three Lions came out of the halftime break reinvigorated, with Wayne Rooney leading the charge. The English star had been denied a goal in the first half when his header hit the woodwork, but his fortunes would change.
Defender Glen Johnson came up the pitch to supplement the attack and received a pass along the right sideline. Johnson made an inside move to beat an Uruguayan defender and crossed on the ground to Rooney, who fired home from point-blank range.
The goal was Rooney's first in World Cup play, taking a Wembley-sized monkey off the star forward's back. Momentum was squarely in England's corner and they seemed poised to find a winner.
But it was Suarez who snatched victory in the closing minutes.
The Liverpool striker snuck behind England's defense to receive a long ball and strike it past helpless keeper Joe Hart.
England were unable to fight back again.
The result of Friday's Costa Rica-Italy match will have major implications for both nations, particularly England. A draw will eliminate the Three Lions from the competition.
In other Thursday action…
Colombia 2, Ivory Coast 1: A scoreless match sprang to life over the final 45 minutes, with Colombia scoring two goals in quick succession.
The South Americans came out swinging after halftime and finally broke through in the 64th minute. James Rodriguez's powerful header off a corner delivered his side a one-goal lead. Six minutes later, Colombia capitalized on a turnover, with Juan Quintero finishing off a 3-on-1 break with a left-footed shot.
But the Ivorians were undeterred. They closed the deficit to one in the 73rd minute on a gorgeous display by Gervinho. The forward eluded two defenders with deft dribbling and buried a shot near-post.
The Ivory Coast pressed forward over the final 25 minutes, looking for an equalizer. Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba had quality chances, but neither player converted.
Colombia later secured a spot in the Round of 16 when Greece and Japan drew (more on that in a moment). The Ivory Coast's easiest route to join Colombia would be a win over Greece.
Japan 0, Greece 0: Ten-man Greece salvaged a point with a gritty, goalless draw against Japan on Thursday.
The Greeks were reduced to 10 in the 38th minute, when Kostas Katsouranis received his second yellow card of the match. The manpower advantage allowed Japan to dominate possession, but not the score.
The Japanese had plenty of chances, including a pair from mere feet away that missed the net completely. Atsuto Uchida skied a left-post attempt in the 70th minute after a perfect pass across the face of goal. In the 85th minute, Yuto Nagatomo had the ball fall to his foot inside the area, but he missed wide right. Japan totaled 16 shot attempts, 11 on goal.
Greece also had a couple of quality looks, with spells of possession late in the first half and early in the second. Their best chance was in the 81st, when an unmarked Georgios Samaras missed a header from close in.
Both teams must win their final group-stage match and get some help to reach the Round of 16.
A look ahead to Friday's action…
Noon, Italy vs. Costa Rica: An intriguing match begins Friday's slate of contests, with the outright lead in Group D on the line. Costa Rica shocked the world with a victory over Uruguay in their opener, but can the Ticos do it again? Italy's confidence likely grew leaps and bounds with Mario Balotelli's snatching the winner out of mid-air in their first contest. The enigmatic forward has been vocal on Twitter recently, including a tweet late Thursday requesting a kiss on the cheek from the Queen of England should the Azzuri win. Balotelli has the talent to play a big role in securing such a result.
3 p.m., Switzerland vs. France: Group E's co-leaders meet in what could be a table-deciding match. If either side wins this match, it will have a leg up toward winning the group -- and avoiding a likely date with Argentina in the next round.
France emphatically dispatched of Honduras with a 3-0 win in their opener, whereas Switzerland needed a goal in the last few moments to escape with three points against Ecuador. For both nations, this is a step up in quality, but the performance of Les Bleus was encouraging, as they shook off the disappointment of four years ago with the win. France appear to have enough firepower to topple the Swiss.
6 p.m., Honduras vs. Ecuador: Heading into the tournament, Ecuador was a dark horse to emerge from Group E. Their stoppage-time concession vs. Switzerland put a major crimp in those plans. But they had chances to grab a winner and should enjoy clear advantages against a Honduran side that looked overwhelmed. The Ecuadorians have a golden opportunity to make major noise heading into the final wave of group-stage matches.