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

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's most starring part
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable
science

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week