England vs Uruguay comment World Cup 2014: Further dejection for Steven Gerrard as Luis Suarez outshines his Liverpool team-mate

Suarez struck two brilliant goals just weeks after knee surgery

Tom Peck
Friday 20 June 2014 10:30
Steven Gerrard was outperformed by his Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez
Steven Gerrard was outperformed by his Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez

The last time Steven Gerrard had worn such a despondent look was when he slipped over at Anfield and watched Demba Ba skip off toward goal, all but taking the Premier League trophy with him.

Then, Suarez’s face was much the same. But, the sadness of Suarez’s club captain wasn’t weighing on his mind as he slapped his second goal of the match past Joe Hart and wheeled away before collapsing on his knees in front of the Uruguay fans. Incredibly, one of those knees had been operated on just four weeks ago. Suarez, who had not played a competitive match since 11 May against Newcastle United in Liverpool’s final game of the season, showed no signs of rustiness, just that dead-eyed precision for where the opponent’s goal is.

Gerrard had promised there would be no interaction between him and his “really good friend” Suarez in the hours before kick off here.

And it was a pledge that extended almost right the way through the 90 minutes, in a match that will mean a lot to both men’s careers, but probably not to their friendship.

Before the game, England’s captain lined up at the very front of the tunnel, Suarez at the very back. For the anthems they could not have been further apart. Suarez again at the very far end of the Uruguayan line, Gerrard in the captain’s position at the front of his.

In the opening minutes, England’s captain fired several of his trademark low balls from deep, showing signs that he would, eventually, open up the Uruguayan defence just as their coach Oscar Tabarez had feared he would.

Usually, it is the looping runs of Suarez with which such balls connect. The Uruguayan lurked behind his friend as he did so, staring at the back of his shirt, hoping for a mistake.

In the seventh minute Suarez clattered into Gerrard, knocking him to the ground, but it was innocuous stuff.

On 30 minutes, an error came. The England captain was unlucky as the ball ricocheted seemingly right through him as the Uruguayan moved the ball up the centre of the pitch and into feet off Edinson Cavani. Suarez wheeled away and suddenly, almost for the first time, it was Gerrard looking at his friend’s back, as he headed home, over Joe Hart’s head and in to the England net after a perfect ball by Edinson Cavani.

Suarez lashes home Uruguay's winner with just five minutes remaining

As Suarez sunk to the ground Gerrard moved determinedly back towards the centre circle.

One might have expected a little more interaction, but the England captain was not at his best. Suarez, in fact, was relatively quiet, save for the two explosive moments that decided the match.

At the final whistle Suarez, who had come off shortly before the end no doubt with Uruguay’s final group match against Italy in mind, was hoisted into the air by his team-mates in celebration. After wallowing in the glory he sought out a disconsolate and inconsolable Gerrard.

He ruffled his Liverpool captain’s hair before embracing him. Gerrard did not seem to want to know, lost in his own despair at the all too real prospect of another – and in all likelihood his last – international tournament slipping by with nothing but pain and disappointment to mark it by.

Gerrard was part of England’s ill-Christened “Golden Generation” but his international career has been far from glittering, just one studded with failure.

Although both men missed out on the Premier League title Suarez has the golden boot, both Player of the Year Awards, and now this. Gerrard just has another sad chapter in what, in the end, must be quite a depressing near culmination to an extraordinary career.

It’s not over, of course. England may yet go through and Uruguay out. Italy and Costa Rica to come are different prospects. But it will certainly be this game, round which the jokes on the Liverpool training pitch are likely to revolve. Although how funny Gerrard will find them is up for debate.

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