It was Luis Suarez’s day. We should have known it would be.
Just when his country needed him, the star striker delivered. Uruguay are back in with a great chance of qualifying for the last 16 of the World Cup thanks to a 2-1 win over England inspired by the man Oscar Tabarez admitted pre-match was key to their hopes regardless of how fit he was.
He hadn’t played a game in 39 days thanks to a knee injury, but it certainly didn’t show. He was sharper and hungrier than anyone else on the field. He was the match winner and deservedly so.
The pre-match talk focused around Suarez and Wayne Rooney, and both talismen were roundly booed by the opposing fans when their names were read out. The pair’s afternoons were incomparable from that point on.
Suarez had the first attempt on goal, forcing Joe Hart to scramble across to stop his left-wing corner finding the net, but moments later it was Rooney causing trouble with a free-kick which curled narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
The Manchester United man missed an even better chance from a Steven Gerrard free-kick, rising at the back post but seeing his header come back off the woodwork when it had seemed easier to score. Suarez made him pay within minutes.
Uruguay’s first goal was brilliant in its simplicity. Edinson Cavani found space on the left edge of the area before delaying his cross just long enough to escape the attentions of the ponderous Glen Johnson and Jordan Henderson.
Suarez timed his run brilliantly to dart in behind Phil Jagielka and rise at the back post to meet the centre, sending the ball back past Hart. The whole ground was immediately struck by a feeling of inevitability. It simply had to be him.