Uruguay's Luis Suarez reacts on the bench after their team conceded a goal to Costa Rica during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Castelao stadium in Fortaleza June 14, 2014.
Well, now we know what Greg Dyke was really getting at when he made his infamous cut-throat gesture at the draw for the World Cup finals last December. The Football Association's chairman was criticised for ripping an index finger across his throat when England landed Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica in a hectic-looking Group D. Not sure why, but people can't take a joke. Yet these finals are suddenly no laughing matter for Uruguay.
It turns out Dyke's gesture was not predicting doom and gloom for England, but rather predicting what would happen to Uruguay if they decided to leave Suarez out of their starting line-up against Costa Rica.
Or that's what we'll say because it sounds good. As good as Saturday evening in Fortaleza must have felt like for Costa Rica's hardy band of followers, who celebrated an astonishing 3-1 win over the 2010 semi-finalists.
It was the first victory in the country's history against Uruguay. And was more than deserved as Jorge Luis Pinto's team somehow recovered from trailing 1-0 at half-time to bludgeon a much-fancied South American side who wilted baldy in the heat. Suarez never appeared as it became clear Uruguay have men who are finished at this level.
Milk turns faster than defender Diego Lugano while forward Diego Forlan lasted an hour before he was hooked. These are guys who were at their peak in the mid-noughties and were probably on the turn after the finals departed South Africa four years ago. This is how it appeared to this onlooker.
You can forget about Uruguay being the favourites to win this section. A vibrant Costa Rica side, beautifully cajoled by the young Arsenal forward Joel Campbell - a man who has not played a match for the club in three years and was previously thought to have no future at the Emirates Stadium - have as good a chance as any to emerge from this section. They are as viable as England and Italy to qualify.
The group is wide open now. Like Spain last night, there must be serious question marks over whether or not Oscar Tabarez's squad have the legs to last the distance in this section. Never mind find their hearts beating for the long haul.
Without Suarez up front, they do not bring much to the table out of the ordinary. Suarez could be found waving to the crowd with a pair of Dr Dre Beats headphones cuddling his neck before this Group D get-together. A touch of California Love from the Liverpool forward in Fortaleza if you will, but it was only the sound of silence that descended over the Uruguay technical area the longer the evening progressed.
Tabarez had no intention of bringing back the Liverpool striker for this match. Not when you had England and Italy to come in your section. Not when the country's main protagonist only had knee surgery three weeks ago. It was a calculated risk that he called wrong. He underestimated Costa Rica otherwise he would have risked Suarez.
Suarez had looked sharp enough in training, making you wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place, but he was forced to sit and suffer as Álvaro González, Abel Hernández and Nicolás Lodeiro were all introduced with the team visibly wilting. Somewhat unusually, 4-4-2 is Uruguay's preferred method of deployment, but it became predictable and looked old hat here.
Costa Rica's forward Marco Urena (R, no 21) celebrates with teammates after scoring during a Group D football match between Uruguay and Costa Rica at the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 14,
It was a poor challenge by Umaña as Cavani planted the ball to the left of Keylor Navos, who guessed correctly but could not reach it.
Uruguay have now scored in seven consecutive World Cup games - their best run since 16 in a row between 1930 and 1962 - but such stats are all Uruguay have to cling to after a shambolic unravelling.
Uruguay could not keep control of the football for long enough in the second half as Costa Rica came roaring back with possibly their most famous outing at the World Cup since they sunk Scotland and Sweden to reach the last 16 in 1990.
Cristian Gamboa threw over a superb cross from the right ahead of the equaliser on 54 minutes. Lugano seemed to be suffering from rigor mortis as he missed the attempt at the clearing header under pressure from Christian Bolaños with young Campbell, only 21, hammering a finish low and hard beyond Fernando Muslera. Suddenly, it was game on.
Costa Rica's forward Joel Campbell celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during a Group D football match between Uruguay and Costa Rica at the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 14, 2014.
The warning signs had been there with Duarte heading straight at Muslera moments earlier, but they clearly had not worked out a strategy for Campbell, who provided an intricate pass for substitute Marcos Urena to slide the third beyond Muslera with his first touch of the match six minutes from the end of normal time.
As if to endorse the helpless feeling washing over the pre-match favourites, Maxi Pereira was sent off for an outlandish challenge on the strutting Campbell near a corner flag. Pereira will not face England on Thursday.
The 'Group of Death' is now the 'Group of Dearth' for Uruguay. They have no points after a pointless excursion.
Campbell looks full of the beans. He exudes an arrogance that is needed at this level as he tucked the ball up his shirt after finding the equaliser.
It is something Suarez has done several times in the past when he is wallowing in goals. Suarez will be back to face England in Sao Paulo. You can be sure of that.
After this gamble went badly wrong, it represents the last throw of the dice for Tabarez and this tiring Uruguay side.
- Sports & Recreation
- Costa Rica
- Luis Suarez
- Joel Campbell
- Oscar Tabarez