England vs Uruguay comment World Cup 2014: Even Wayne Rooney cannot save an England who suffer from gulf in class

Striker scored maiden World Cup goal but it was at the back where England’s dreams disintegrated

Sao Paulo

The No 6 jersey has been an iconic one for England in this tournament, on this continent. It conjures the image of Bobby Moore, Mexico, 1970; a lion of the nation’s defence. It left us with a different image last night.

The goalscorer who has probably ended England’s World Cup was the most predictable one in the tournament. His threat will have been analysed 100 times. Steven Gerrard said the course of England’s night would stand or fall on the defence. And still Luis Suarez cleaved open England’s central defence. Again and then again. There can be no preparation for the lack of requisite class.

Read more: Luis Suarez puts England on the brink of exit
Five things we learnt from Uruguay's 2-1 win in Sao Paulo
Don't worry, England can still qualify...
Roy Hodgson 'devastated by defeat

The mathematics mean it is not conclusively over for England, who need a win in Belo Horizonte against Costa Rica and defeat for Uruguay against Italy in Natal. But the World Cup adventure is fading for Wayne Rooney.

He found a form of vindication at last. He also discovered the net for the first time on the biggest stage of all, in the course of delivering as much as anyone in the famous white shirt on this occasion. But the gulf in class between his country and the opposition leaves him a very long way from feeling that the World Cup can ever be a tournament he can look back on and smile. England simply lost the vigour they had found in Manaus and went back to the functionality which they had put in the past.

Wayne Rooney sees his header hit the bar from close range Wayne Rooney sees his header hit the bar from close range  

One of the banners paraded by the exuberant Uruguayans who processed to the stadium recalled the words of Jose Artigas, the father of Uruguayan nationhood, who declared “Nadas podemos esperar si no es de nosotros mismos”. We can hope for nothing if we are not ourselves.

The question was could Rooney be himself? Release his mind to the signature evening at a World Cup which we have been waiting for from him since 2003, by discovering that free spirit and fearlessness that Frank Lampard recalled to mind only this week, when he talked of a 17-year-old Rooney first arriving for training, warming up, getting his kit on and just getting out and playing.

The prospect of that happening is never encouraging when a player has taken to Facebook to express his frustrations – in Rooney’s case, at others observing that he had not warmed down with England on Monday. He stared into space in the tunnel as he prepared to walk out and Steven Gerrard approached him in the last seconds before England went to work, wrapped an arm around his neck and speak a few last words into his ear.

The man on his shoulder five minutes later was not quite so convivial. Egidio Arevalo is what you might politely described as a midfield enforcer. “Aggressive little hit man” is how World Soccer put it recently and from the way he was deployed, it was hard to avoid the impression that the Uruguyans knew that Rooney would be tucked in behind Daniel Sturridge, in his best position.

He was not entirely controlled by Arevalo during a first half in which he needed to announce himself as the rightful custodian of the No 10 shirt and douse the criticism about his worth. England’s two best opportunities of that period belonged to him. The first was the free kick, hoisted up over the wall, and two inches wide of the left post.

The second connected with the right post – a header he manoeuvred himself for at the back post from Steven Gerrard’s inswinging corner but which he was so close to goal when he connected that he could do no more than let the ball meet his head and hope. A well measured ball for Daniel Sturridge into the left hand channel counted in the credit column too, drawing a sharper save from Fernando Musler to his right.

But Rooney could not take the game apart. There was nothing to put the fear of God into the Atletico Madrid central defensive pairing that stood before him and nothing to suggest that one of the world’s best paid players was on the pitch.

His flickers of life continued into the second half: a drive into opposition before a give-and-go. And then he scored. He looked to the heavens when he scored and blew a muted kind of kiss for supplications answered. The tap-in that presented itself to him was more elementary than any mental image he will have nurtured of how his World Cup goal might have come. Just stepping in front of the full back, finding he had not been followed, and waiting there for the tap-in would do. It had taken 94 caps for that to arrive.

There would be no papering over the realities of England, though. For a defence to be so inferior to the threat that Suarez posed required a phalanx of threats for the Uruguayans to face. There were pitifully few. Raheem Sterling could not conjure the spirit and imagination that we saw against the Italians.

Read more: Dejection for Gerrard as Suarez outshines his team-mate
Player ratings - Three Lions fail big test

Danny Welbeck disappeared without trace. And while Daniel Sturridge provided some unpredictability – working up and down the Uruguay back line – he struggled to deliver anything like the venom that his Liverpool shooting partner serve up.

He could get no power on the opening which presented itself when he ran into the left hand channel and found space opening to shoot, not long beyond the hour

It would have required a performance of giant proportions for Rooney to rescue England from this. A Rooney at the searing best we saw from him in those early England years.

A Rooney who had scaled the height that his old partner Cristiano Ronaldo has managed by dint of his obsessive work ethic and self obsession.

He could not  lift himself to that level and though the physicality of the Uruguayans took its toll at times, Roy Hodgson could have no complaints last night. England had been dealt a tough hand and – though two Italy victories and a win over Costa Rica might be enough to extend England’s tournament, the hope seems forlorn.

Rooney had the faraway look in his eyes again as he left the pitch last night. After all the talk and the expectation and the criticism, there could be only one conclusion: that England are a moderately good football nation who can hold their own against most but scrape into the world’s top ten for a reason

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering