Coles, London Daily Telegraph
As was expected, England lost their
World Cup quarter-final tie against
Uruguay, the holders, at Basle yesterday. What had not been expected,
however was the gallant fight back the losers made after being a goal down in the fifth minute.
That was a situation, I, frankly,
had dreaded. Aware of the hungry
Uruguayans' appetite for goals and more goals once they get in front, I
feared an avalanche similar to the one that hit Scotland when playing the
same opponents a week earlier. Instead, England inspired by another superb Stanley Matthews display and with Lofthouse cheerfully shouldering a two-man burden, refused to surrender the flag and when Lofthouse equalised after 16 minutes our players were on top with their supporters sensing the sensational upset of the competition.
For the next 20 minutes England dictated
the shape of the play. I should now be
acclaiming a great British victory if they had gone ahead, as they
deserved to when a lob by Wilshaw bobbed infuriatingly along the goal line
and finished a foot outside the post. We saw Uruguay in a new and unfavourable light. Their defence, especially the backs, were slow and panicky and most of the forwards shot wretchedly.
They looked anything but world-beaters
until five minutes before half-time
when centre-half Varela went striding through to score with a fine
cross-drive which I thought Merrick might have saved. Goalkeeping errors in a match as tense as this one ought never to be. It was downright tragedy therefore that poor Merrick should be hopelessly at fault again just after the interval when Schiaffino raced past Byrne and scored with a low shot that appeared to pass under the goalkeeper's right arm as he dived too late.
Even so, England would not lie down
in adversity. Sleeves rolled up, they
came right back into the game, and when in the 67rd minute Finney closed in, seized on a Broadis ball that had been charged down and made it 3-2 hopes of a full English recovery burned high.
England deserved to draw level, but
alas! that was not to be. With less than
a quarter-hour to go Ambrois darted of from half-way made straight for goal and scored with a fast shot which kept low and swerved a foot inside the far post. Merrick, caught flat-footed, looked on helpless and amazed.
So the England party fly home on Monday, with mixed feelings over the manner of their World Cup exit. Their disappointment is tempered by the plan and pleasing fact that the team at last rediscovered the old fighting spirit their countrymen have a right to demand. And, they came so very near to victory.
A handful of idealists complained
that the English showed too much
determination. My answer is that when a side of South Americans, idolised in their own country and hailed as supermen, set out deliberately to cheapen their rivals by overlording it, the correct treatment is the shoulder charge and the firm tackle. The Uruguayans shrink from both and protesting fall like ninepins. I say our fellows, in giving all they had, were scrupulously fair. Uruguay, it is true, were handicapped in the second half when first Varela and then Abbadie and Andrade were reduced to little more than half-speed. All three were victims of pulled muscles and wore elastic bandages. For some time in the second half, Borges, who scored the first goal of the match from outside-left, crossed over the right wing.
Unfortunately, the Englishmen were once more victims of unsound refereeing.
Mr. E. Steiner, the Austrian in charge,
allowed the Uruguayans to exploit
the petty tricks of the trade barred in League Football years ago.
Mr Steiner's failure to see what was going on cost England the vital third
goal. The Uruguayans were awarded a free kick from near halfway and before the defence could get into line Vjarela picked the ball up and fly-kicked it to the already moving Schiaffino, who scored.
Near the end of the match there was
an ugly looking incident. Martinez
pushed Lofthouse in the back when a foul was given against him. Lofthouse
retaliated and the police intervened when a small Uruguayan section of the
crowd in the far corner attempted to rush on to the field.
England's 1954 World Cup record of
one win, one draw and one defeat is, I
suppose, as satisfactory as could have been hoped for, remembering the
treatment we received from Hungary recently. The matches have certainly
revealed valuable lessons and guidance for team-building.
From the moment Billy Wright took
over at centre-half against Switzerland
the defence tightened, showing fewer holds in the middle. I consider Wright played the game of his life against Uruguay. He should have been England's centre-half long ago. While Wright's success solves one problem, the selectors will have no reason next season to look beyond McCarry or Huddersfield for their right-half.
Stanley Matthews blew sky high that
hoary old cry "too old at 40". Every
Englishman watching him dash inside to take on the Uruguayans at their own clever dribbling game was proud that we have produced such an everlasting monument to football as it should be played.
Referee: E. Steiner, Austria