Luis Suarez was, unsurprisingly, the hero in Uruguay's 2-1 victory over England today. He opened the scoring with a perfect header off a sublime ball over the top from Edinson Cavani, and then finished the scoring with a laser strike after a Muslera goal kick was accidentally flicked behind the English defense by Steven Gerrard. He also came close to scoring directly off two corner kicks when he noticed Joe Hart positioning himself well off his line. All in all, it was a very fine display from one of the world's best players just a month after having knee surgery.
It's no secret that there isn't much love lost between Suarez and the English media. Suarez has had more than his fair share of on-field scandals, and the English media has been extremely critical of him. They were so critical that a man who has expressed on numerous occasions that playing for Liverpool is a dream come true, and he loves playing for the men in Red, very nearly left the Premier League last summer to get away from them. So, it only made sense that the prevailing storyline coming into this game would be Suarez getting a chance to stick it to the country that has vilified him. And boy did he deliver. Not only was Suarez's performance key in beating England, it was a gut wrenching blow that takes England's hopes of advancing out of their hand's
As well as Suarez played, it was his emotional display and postgame comments that stand out to me the most. The second the ball left his head on the first goal, Suarez broke into a huge, toothy grin. After his second goal, the one that put Uruguay up for good, Suarez smiled once again, but this time, he was teary eyed as well. His reaction was priceless. It was very clear how important this game was to him, and to be the reason Uruguay were leading made it all that much more special. After being subbed off, there was a moment where Luis was on the bench embracing a teammate, and he was still teary eyed, but clearly overjoyed.
After the final whistle sounded, Suarez really let his emotions take over, giving this brief and powerful interview:
He's had some very controversial interviews in the past, but this response from Suarez was perfect. He expressed how much the win meant to him, and took a shot at his critics, but not in a way that made this about them or proving them wrong. He could have made this situation very ugly by explicitly expressing that he was happy for the win because he got to stick it to the country that he thinks has treated him unfairly, but he handled it with as much class as you could expect in this situation. As easy as it would have been for him to use this win as a chance to lash out at the English media, he's showed that he's ready to put everything that's happened behind him, and that alone shows how much Luis has grown in the last few years. The incidents and controversies that have plagued Suarez's time at Liverpool will never be forgotten, but rather than allow them to define him, he is using them to help him become a better player and a better person, and that is something to be commended. Good on ya Luis.