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Savage Suarez mauls Frail Lions – Uruguay 2-1 England

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Thursday evening played host to the latest dashing of English hopes at a major tournament, as a Luis Suarez-inspired Uruguay powered somewhat fortuitously past the Three Lions, the Liverpool striker grabbing a goal either side of a frustration relieving Wayne Rooney tap-in. While England are not yet mathematically out of the tournament – relying on Italy to seal two wins to have a hope of making it through with a win over Costa Rica – this performance in Sao Paulo had the air of infamous days and nights in Saint-Etienne, Shizuoka, Gelsenkirchen and Bloemfontein, while the Uruguayan jubilation at the final whistle was as galling as it was understandable.

Story of the Game

England started on the front foot, Leighton Baines neatly slipping Daniel Sturridge into the penalty area, but the Liverpool man couldn’t get the ball out of his feet before Fernando Muslera was on the scene. The Galatasaray shot stopper let the ball slip from his grasp momentarily but managed to collect it properly with the second bite at the cherry; nevertheless, warning signs were there for Uruguay: they couldn’t let England have free reign going forward.

Moments later, however, it was the Suarez show. The Red half of Merseyside’s favourite adopted son was in behind the England defence and earned the Uruguayans a corner, from which he ambitiously opted to go for goal. This nearly caught Joe Hart out, the England custodian nearly committed to challenging in the 6 yard box, but he scrambled back in time and off the leg of Jordan Henderson, managed to eliminate any imminent danger, with Uruguay having to settle for another corner.

Nothing came of the second attempt at a corner, and once more it was England on the up, winning a free kick on the edge of the area after neat interplay led to Diego Godin blocking a Daniel Sturridge through ball with his arm. From the resulting set piece, it was a matter of inches between safety for the South Americans and ecstasy for England – fortunately for Muslera, who was rooted, and of course his teammates, Rooney’s excellent free kick was just to the wrong side of the post.

England, however, began to look nervous. Defensive mistakes began to creep into their game, with Jagielka letting Rodriguez in before Cavani won a free header from a corner, but they still pushed for an opener. Rooney went close again – heading right into the corner of the crossbar and post from point blank range – while Danny Welbeck and Raheem Sterling continued to try and get behind the defence at every opportunity.

This profligacy was however to prove costly. England captain Steven Gerrard pulled out of a challenge in midfield, allowing Edinson Cavani time to gallop forward and, with consummate ease, pick out the head of Luis Suarez, who headed past Joe Hart and into the England net. 1-0 Uruguay, and although most of the play had gone against them, it was hard to begrudge them their lead, for it was they who had created the best chances from open play. The timing was particularly damning for England – around five minutes before half time, allowing little time for England to rally and play themselves back into the game. Unlike against Italy, a quick response wasn’t found, and so the teams went into the half time break with Uruguay holding the slenderest of leads.

Uruguay started the second half the stronger but, rather surprisingly given the reputation of the English of not being able to keep the ball, England began to dominate possession, totting up a rather nifty 60% of the ball. This was perhaps indicative of the styles of each side, England trying to press the issue while Uruguay – even without the lead in the first half – were happy to pick England off on the break. This was quite evident with Uruguay’s best chance at early doors of the second half; Edinson Cavani got clean in behind the English defence, but blazed wide, barely troubling Joe Hart.

England came again, Leighton Baines finding Wayne Rooney once more in the box, who fired straight at Muslera with most of the goal at his mercy. The half had started at a frenetic pace without any real chances of note, but soon it slowed down, maintaining the lack of chances, too. In fact, for around 20 minutes, the main event of importance was Alvaro Pereira of Uruguay being knocked out cold by Raheem Sterling’s trailing knee; for some reason, despite not being conscious for a while, Pereira opted to carry on for the rest of the game. Strange. Nevertheless, it was soon England making the best of the post-Pereira situation, Glen Johnson surging past the Uruguayan defence and squaring to Rooney, who this time made no mistake to grab his first ever World Cup goal. With that monkey off his back, anything seemed possible.

That wasn’t to be, however. As soon as England had built up an attacking head of steam for the first time in the game, they were hit with the sucker punch. Steven Gerrard had his second major clanger of the game, failing to make a header which left Luis Suarez in and the England defence all at sea. Suarez showed the World what he showed the Premier League all season, absolutely lashing the ball past Joe Hart, and England’s hopes were over.

There’s still dim hope for England – if Italy win both their remaining games and England beat Costa Rica convincingly, they’d qualify – but as that’s unlikely to happen, and given England’s form in recent years, a face-off with likely opponents for the second placed team, Colombia, will not be pretty.

Player Ratings (out of 10)

Uruguay
Fernando Muslera – 6: Was very erratic, largely saved by England’s strikers not fully testing him. Did make some good saves though, so you can’t criticise too heavily.
Martin Caceres – 6: England’s joy for most of the game came down Caceres’ side, but as a centre half converted to the role in place of the suspended Maxi Pereira, not bad.
Jose Maria Gimenez – 7: An assured performance by the 19 year old.
Diego Godin – 7: Was the rock of the Uruguayan defence, and showed how canny he was with some particularly cynical challenges.
Alvaro Pereira – 5: Being knocked out wasn’t his fault, but he quite clearly wasn’t in the right place following the impact, being at fault for the England goal.
Alvaro Gonzalez – 6: Kept things ticking over in midfield.
Arevalo Rios – 6: A quiet performance in midfield, but not necessarily a poor one.
Cristian Rodriguez – 6: Worked well in partnership with Cavani and went close at one point, not his best performance though.
Nicolas Lodeiro – 5: Should probably have had more joy against this England defence, was the weakest prong of the Uruguay attack.
Edinson Cavani – 7: Instrumental in the opening goal and ultimately the win, a good performance by the PSG man – may have even impressed the onlooking Zlatan Ibrahimovic, teammate and Swedish striker, in the crowd!
Luis Suarez – 9: Somehow managed to score a very good brace despite having knee surgery less than a month ago. Insane.
Substitutions
Christian Stuani – 6: Didn’t affect proceedings too much.
Jorge Fucile – 6: Bolstered the defence towards the end.
Sebastian Coates – 6: Played about 5 minutes as a substitution for the injured Suarez, not really fair to judge.

England
Joe Hart – 5: Probably should have made a better effort with at least one of Suarez’s goals, but nice to see him in Uruguay’s box at the death.
Glen Johnson – 7: Despite being much derided throughout the game, Johnson defended stoutly and grabbed an assist to boot – quite clearly better going outside rather than inside his opposite numbers, though, so why does he keep cutting inside when he has a chance of beating his man?
Gary Cahill – 6: Not a poor performance by Cahill, but he didn’t deal with Suarez nearly as well as he did for Chelsea this season.
Phil Jagielka – 6: Didn’t get tight enough to Suarez for the opener, but wasn’t by any means a weak link in the England side.
Leighton Baines – 7: Vastly improved upon his Italy showing, probably because Danny Welbeck and Adam Lallana tracked back quite well. Was dangerous moving forward, but sadly overlooked for set pieces.
Steven Gerrard – 3: Quite possibly the England captain’s worst hour and a half in an England shirt. Was at fault for both goals, and fell into the trap of playing stupid blockbuster passes just like in days gone by. Should he play for England moving on to Euro 2016? Maybe it’s for the best if not.
Jordan Henderson – 7: By contrast, this was Jordan Henderson’s best performance for England. Showed leadership and tenacity in getting forward for lost causes.
Raheem Sterling – 6: Quiet throughout.
Wayne Rooney – 8: England’s best player, unlucky to not add to his tally of one. Finally has broken his World Cup scoring duck as well, which means that – hopefully – his inclusion versus Costa Rica won’t be so much up for debate.
Danny Welbeck – 6: Showed plenty of willing, but didn’t have the ball enough to make a real difference.
Daniel Sturridge – 6: Was denied a stone wall penalty, but worked hard and didn’t have the service, either.
Substitutions
Ross Barkley – 5: Made one great impact with the ball, spraying it out wide, but like against Italy he went missing almost straight away.
Adam Lallana – 6: Added that bit of flair that was lost with Danny Welbeck’s inclusion on the left, but didn’t change the game too much, either.
Rickie Lambert – 6: Essentially worked the graveyard shift – probably should have taken to the field much earlier.

Man of the Match

Luis Suarez. It speaks volumes that he was the man who incensed England supporters up and down the country while operating on a fraction of his usual capacity, netting a magnificent brace and even managing to run the clock down having been injured again after the goal. Led the line magnificently and could have scored more, but for Joe Hart’s awareness.

Arsenal

Three Arsenal youngsters who could help England bring football home in 2022

The Gunners’ academy continues to develop some of the very best youngsters.

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Arsenal
Photo: Getty Images

After a successful tournament got the nation dreaming, England fell at the penultimate at the World Cup and may require Arsenal‘s help in 2022.

Gareth Southgate’s youthful squad exceeded pre-tournament expectations and suddenly Greg Dyke’s objectives for the 2022 World Cup seem within grasp – and the Three Lions now have four years to build towards glory in Qatar.

Come November 2022, when FIFA has confirmed the World Cup will commence, Southgate is likely to call upon a number of the players who starred for the Three Lions in Russia but changes to his squad are also inevitable.

“The two targets I have for the England team are – one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022.”

– FA Chairman Greg Dyke reveals his ambitious plan in 2013.

Fortunately, English football is breaming with exciting young talent at the moment and Arsenal may hold the key to success with three of their most highly-rated prospects.

Eddie Nketiah

Bursting onto the scene in November 2017, Eddie Nketiah became an instant hit at the Emirates Stadium after netting twice against Norwich City in the Carabao Cup. Since then, the 19-year-old forward has gone on to make three Premier League appearances.

Competition for places at Arsenal is fierce, particularly following the captures of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the past 12 months, which means he may have to be patient to get his chance – but the situation is entirely different on the international stage.

In four England U21 appearances, Nketiah has scored two goals, per TransferMarkt stats, following on from eight goals in eight games at U18 level and four goals in two games for the U17 side. In just over a year, Nketiah rose to Aidy Boothroyd’s U21 ranks from the U17’s and shows no signs of stopping his rise.

(Photo by Bertrand Langlois/Getty Images)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Becoming a regular for Arsenal in Arsene Wenger’s final season at the Emirates Stadium, Ainsley Maitland-Niles showed his versatility by catching the eye playing as a full-back. His natural position is in midfield though and this is where he could be of value to England.

It is fair to say that England’s options in the middle of the park sitting in front of the defence are extremely limited, with neither Jordan Henderson or Eric Dier doing enough to cement their spot in the position for the long-term.

Maitland-Niles could become the man England are looking for in the coming years and further first-team experience with Arsenal looks set to follow under Unai Emery, as the 20-year-old penned a new long-term deal with the Gunners last month.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Reiss Nelson

Arsenal fans have been excited about 18-year-old Reiss Nelson for a while now and saw the teenager break into the fringes of the first-team last term, as Whoscored data shows he finished the campaign with 15 appearances across all competitions.

Eight of those opportunities came as a starter, including two in the Premier League, and there is every chance Nelson could earn further action under the guidance of Unai Emery next term – especially as Alex Iwobi has not done enough to warrant continued action.

Should the Nigeria international continue to suffer with poor form, the eight-cap England U19 international could be Arsenal’s breakthrough star of the year – following in the footsteps of players like Maitland-Niles, Jack Wilshere and Hector Bellerin.

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Who will bring football home? England’s predicted World Cup 2022 squad

Players from Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and even Bristol City feature.

Mathew Nash

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England were desperately close to making it into the World Cup final, after defeat to Croatia in the semi-finals.

The Three Lions did however bring back some pride and promise from the long-suffering England fans.

With England also the World Under-17 and Under-20 Champions, the future is brighter than ever.

So who will be at the World Cup in 2022?

It seems impossible to guess four years in advance. Not many would have suggested the likes of Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire or Jesse Lingard four years ago.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

The squad, hopefully, will not change much and the experienced players in the squad will likely still be around.

However, for the sake of the article and debate, anyone who will be over 30 in 2022 has been ignored. That leaves Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck in the cold, even if some of them will likely be present.

Eric Dier also got nudged out, as his form recently has been a concern and Nick Pope has been replaced.

So who makes the XI and the overall squad of 23?

GOALKEEPERS

Jordan Pickford

The Everton stopper cemented his place as England’s new number one during the quarter-final triumph over Sweden. Highly-rated by club and country and with excellent distribution it will be no surprise if he remains England’s first-choice in 2022.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Jack Butland

What a deputy. The Stoke City goalkeeper could easily be our number one. The Potters relegation will hopefully not set him back and he should push Pickford for years to come.

Angus Gunn

The son of a Scotland international has so far rejected their international calls. Recently joined Southampton for £13.5 million and will hope to cement his place as a Premier League regular.

Honourable mentions: Nick Pope, Freddie Woodman, Dean Henderson.

DEFENDERS

John Stones

Despite one lapse of concentration which cost England crucially against Croatia the Manchester City man was excellent in Russia.

If he maintains a starting place at City and his career is not derailed, then Stones will be one of the leaders in Qatar.

Harry Maguire

Became a national hero this summer. A swashbuckling defender with an eye for a goal and a great meme. Should be a multi-cap England international.

Joe Gomez

Replacing Kyle Walker as the pace-man in a back three is Liverpool’s Gomez. If he can combat his recent injury troubles he will be a certain future England player. Remember how he shackled Neymar back in November.

Jamaal Lascelles

For many people, the Newcastle captain should have been in Russia ahead of Phil Jones or Gary Cahill.

Rightly so. A brilliant leader who would slot into a back three perfectly and deserves to be in the England fold for the next four years.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St. James Park on April 15, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Dael Fry

The Middlesbrough defender is one inclusion that may cause derision. But this lad is extremely talented.

A reliable defender, good with the ball at his feet and a favourite at St George’s Park. Fry will hope to emerge as an England hopeful in the years to come.

Honourable mentions: Eric Dier, Alfie Mawson, Michael Keane, Ben Wilmot.

FULL-BACKS/WING-BACKS

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Already in the England picture and shone v Belgium. Will likely play in the ¾ play-off this weekend. In four years he might be playing in the final.

Jonjoe Kenny

A tough call this but the Everton defender is like the Kieran Trippier to Alexander-Arnold’s Walker-like characteristics.

Whilst the Liverpool man has the pace and the power Kenny is more deliberate and his crossing is fantastic.

A favourite with the England youth management and the eventual successor to Seamus Coleman at Goodison Park.

Honourable mentions: Kyle Walker-Peters, Dujon Sterling, Steven Sessegnon.

Ryan Sessegnon

A shoe-in for 2022 if he remains fit and healthy. The Fulham star is perhaps England’s most exciting prospect.

He might even be considered an attacker by 2022 but for now, he would be an excellent left wing-back and will hopefully make his England bow this season.

(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Joe Bryan

This might be the biggest swing and potential miss in the squad. The Bristol City star is wanted by a host of clubs this summer after his fantastic form at Ashton Gate.

But he is a hard-working and super-fit young man who, given the right opportunities, is easily capable of playing for his nation.

Honourable mentions: Lewis Gibson, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell

MIDFIELDERS

Lewis Cook

Absolutely adored by the England camp the Bournemouth man has already made his England debut. More positive in his passing than Jordan Henderson and more dynamic than Eric Dier, he is surely the future of England’s composed holding role.

Harry Winks

Set for a big break at Tottenham this season he has the potential to be an England star. If he can overcome his current injury trouble he would seem like being a shoe-in for 2022.

Phil Foden

England lacked a midfielder who could pick the locks of the Croatia defence in the semi-finals. This is the young man to do just that. The Manchester City youngster needs to break into the first-team fold but given what he has already achieved that should not be a problem.

(Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

A lot depends on his next move, as Chelsea does not seem to be the right place for RLC to develop.

Showed in all his England performances that he is a talent to keep an eye on for the future and England will surely nurture him.

Dele Alli

May not have set the world alight in Russia, but the Tottenham star’s talent cannot be overlooked.

If he can get to the level he is capable of, then Alli is a 100-cap man with ease.

Jesse Lingard

Can he continue to prove people wrong for another four years?

Excellent at the World Cup and been in fine form for Manchester United. If he continues to progress in this way, then he should still be in the England set-up four years from now.

James Maddison

A tough choice considering the wealth of attacking midfield talent but the Leicester newbie seems the most likely to reach the levels necessary to play at a World Cup.

The £24 million talent can play a number of positions and is a special talent the Premier League will enjoy watching next term.

Honourable mentions: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ross Barkley, Jack Grealish, Kieran Dowell,

FORWARDS

Raheem Sterling

He divided opinion among some at this summer’s World Cup. But under the guidance of Pep Guardiola he will continue to improve.

Whether out wide or through the middle, England will surely stick by the attacker.

(Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Harry Kane

The nation’s current captain and front-runner for the Golden Boot award at this summer’s tournament it is hard to see how he won’t lead the line again in four years time.

If he keeps going at his current rate, Kane will surely take Wayne Rooney’s goal-scoring record for England.

Ademola Lookman

Some felt the Everton attacker was unlucky not to go this summer. After thriving on loan at RB Leipzig it seemed he might make a late lunge.

This summer is big for Lookman. He needs to decide where is best to carry on his career which could be key to a future England career.

Marcus Rashford

The Manchester United talent can surely only get better. If he can become a regular starter, wherever he happens to play his club football then the teenager will hope to secure a place in Qatar.

Honourable mentions: Dominic Solanke, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Eddie Nketiah.

Who did we miss? Can England bring football home in 2022?

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Three Everton players who could help England bring football home in 2022

Everton have a long list of top talents coming through that could make it into the England team.

Mathew Nash

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England are out of the World Cup following defeat against Croatia in the semi-finals last night. But the future looks bright for England. They had the second youngest team in the tournament and are the current under-20 and under-17 World Champions.

So who could help them bring football home at Qatar 2022?

When looking at Everton’s current crop, it is hard to pick just one.

Ademola Lookman is an excellent attacker, although could be on his way. Callum Connolly’s versatility makes him a manager’s dream whilst Tom Davies had a brilliant 2016-17 season, even if last term was less impressive.

But here are the three Everton players who might have a chance of heading to Qatar in four years time.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Like England’s summer hero Harry Maguire the 21-year-old came through the ranks at Sheffield United. Since joining Everton his progress has been astonishing.

He is already a hero for England. He scored the winner for England’s under-20s last summer as they won the World Cup.

With striking positions set to be up for grabs in four years time, DCL will no doubt be in the running.

(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Kieran Dowell

The spindly playmaker is adored in the England and Everton set-ups for his God-given natural talent.

Stormed into a loan spell at Nottingham Forest last season, which admittedly dwindled toward the end.

But with his dexterity and ability, only injury and himself could hold Dowell back from making it to Qatar.

(during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Everton at The King Power Stadium on October 29, 2017 in Leicester, England.

Jonjoe Kenny

Dowell’s best mate and England’s trusted right-back at youth level. His cross-city rival Trent Alexander-Arnold may be catching the eye but Kenny is no slouch.

An exquisite crosser of the ball and defensively sound he is the Trippier if Alexander-Arnold is the Walker of England’s future right-back choices.

Like Dowell, eligible for Ireland, so England, must ensure the Everton pair are aware of their pathway.

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