What a shame for the final round of Group D fixtures to be dominated by such a distasteful controversy. It ought to have been so different from a game that promised so much yet ended with the first on-field scandal of the World Cup.
Luis Suarez will dominate the headlines for the latest in a long line of discrepancies with this now the third time he has appeared to bite an opponent. It is disappointing that a game between two great footballing nations to decide which side would progress to the knockout stages in Brazil has been overshadowed by such an incident, although it’s not as though the football was living up to any expectations.
It was a tempestuous encounter yet fairly uneventful in terms of chances given the stakes at hand, and Uruguay didn’t trouble the Italians too much until Claudio Marchisio was sent off for a rash challenge after he miscontrolled the ball. This brought a swing in momentum in favour of the South Americans, yet the Azzurri were still hanging onto the draw they needed before Suarez appeared to sink his teeth into Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder.
Just two minutes later and one of Europe’s standout players of last season, Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin, put the ball into the back of Gianluigi Buffon’s net with the back of his own left shoulder. Yet what should have been a moment of unbridled joy for the Uruguay captain will no doubt have been tempered by the actions of his teammate.
FIFA will no doubt investigate the Liverpool forward’s actions, and he may be removed from the tournament altogether which would be a shame considering the effort he has made to get himself fit and ready, and indeed those around him also. Yet taking into account previous behaviour Suarez can blame no one but himself should he receive a lengthy ban, which would rob La Celeste of their most talented player as they head towards the business end of the World Cup having suffered defeat in their opening fixture.
In the section’s other encounter, Costa Rica were aiming to complete an improbable hat-trick of victories against their more illustrious Group D opponents, but seemed happy to settle for a draw against England that secured an incredible first place finish for Jorge Luis Pinto’s side.
The Central Americans move through to the latter stages and a very much winnable tie with Greece despite their billing as the group’s underdogs, while the Three Lions will return home after a dismal showing in Brazil.
Roy Hodgson has been given a vote of confidence by the FA, yet it is difficult to remember an England side as weak as the one he fielded. Wayne Rooney’s pre-tournament claim that this was the best England team he has been involved with seems to have been proven as ridiculous as it sounded at the time it was made, while the Manchester United striker hardly endorsed his claim to take over the captaincy should Steven Gerrard retire from the international setup as expected.
There were very few positives to take from an England perspective, who will be left to lick their wounds while it will be Costa Rica and Uruguay who hope to inflict wounds upon their opponents in the knockout stages, hopefully without the use of their teeth.