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June 20, 2014

Suarez pushes England to edge of World Cup exit

(Continued)

After May 22 surgery on his knee left little hope for a World Cup appearance, Suarez looked completely healthy. He produced his toothy smile even before his header crossed the line to open the scoring. And after Wayne Rooney finally scored his first World Cup goal to tie the game for England, Suarez capped his return with something almost magical in Sao Paulo.

With Uruguay under intense pressure in the 85th minute, Suarez gathered a long clearance that was accidentally headed on by England's Steven Gerrard — his Liverpool teammate. His knee was in full flow as he unleashed a drive that goalie Joe Hart barely had time to see fly by. Suarez fell to the ground in disbelief before he was mobbed by delirious teammates.

"He doesn't miss" from there, England coach Roy Hodgson said. For England, its World Cup standing is slipping ever more.

After reaching the quarterfinals at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, England exited in the second round in South Africa four years ago. Now it likely looks like a return ticket in the first round.

"Our chances are unbelievably slim," added Hodgson.

If Suarez produced tears of joy, there were also tears of anguish. In a moment as memorable as many of the great goals, midfielder Serey Die sobbed uncontrollably during the Ivory Coast anthem.

His thoughts went back to his father who died a decade ago, but "I also thought about my tough life — I didn't think that one day I would be here, playing."

The match provided little joy though, as the 2-1 loss of the Ivory Coast's chances to advance in doubt.

Africa has had a miserable showing at the World Cup, with just 4 points out of a possible 21.

For South America, the home advantage was there for all to see by the frenzied pro-Colombian crowd inside the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia.

James Rodriguez and Juan Quintero produced second half goals before a brilliant solo effort by Gervinho made it a tight game again.

There was nothing brilliant as Japan and Greece played to a goalless draw in the late Group C game, maintaining slim hopes of advancing for both.

 

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