SAO PAULO — Luis Suarez scored twice to give Uruguay a 2-1 victory over England at the World Cup on Thursday, making an instant impact on his return from injury to revive his team’s Group D campaign.
The striker lashed in the winner in the 85th minute, after seeing his first-half opener canceled out by Wayne Rooney. The win gave Uruguay’s qualifying chances a major lift and left England’s hopes of advancing to the round of 16 in real jeopardy.
Suarez, who hadn’t played for more than a month after undergoing knee surgery, is the Uruguay player who knows this England side best, having played for Liverpool for more than three years.
And by taking his World Cup tally to five goals, Suarez ensured that Rooney’s first-ever goal on football’s biggest stage was in vain at his third tournament.
Rooney tapped the ball home from close range in the 75th minute after connecting with Glen Johnson’s pass. Having also lost against Italy, England now faces the prospect of not advancing from the group stage for the first time since 1958.
Group D leader Italy and Costa Rica, who both have three points, meet for their second group game on Friday. Uruguay now has three points, having lost its opener to the Costa Ricans, while England is on zero points after consecutive defeats following its losing start to Italy.
It is in the England where Suarez has stepped up a level and powered in the goals that saw him voted the Premier League’s best player last season. And despite lacking sharpness at times, he still managed to recapture the scoring form that helped Liverpool finish second last season with 31 goals.
Suarez was in the thick of the action in the opening minutes against an edgy England side. Goalkeeper Joe Hart’s first save came after Suarez’s cross-shot was deflected off the head of Gary Cahill.
As England was struggling to contain Uruguay, the first blow came just before halftime when Diego Godin picked up possession on the halfway line and sprayed it to Edinson Cavani on the left. Suarez easily evaded Phil Jagielka to head over Hart, seizing on defensive lapses just as Mario Balotelli did in Italy’s win.
Sturridge had a chance to quickly cancel out his Liverpool teammate’s goal but was denied at the far post.
Uruguay could have extended its lead at the start of the second half, with Suarez’s corner appearing to be curling into the net until Hart batted the ball away, and Cavani cutting in from the left but only slicing the shot wide.
Although after several chances, Rooney ended his World Cup hoodoo it was rendered meaningless by Suarez’s devastating final touch.
Suarez’s Liverpool teammate, England captain Steven Gerrard, tried to clear a long punt by Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, and the ball glanced off the head of midfielder and back toward his own goal. Suarez ran onto it and beat Hart with a right-footed shot from about nine yards.
Now it is Uruguay back on track going into its game against Italy on Tuesday, when England faces a must-win match against Costa Rica.