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World Cup update: Suarez leads Uruguay

Jun 20, 2014

Before the World Cup, Uruguay was worried about Luis Suarez’s knee and Colombia was fretting over injured Radamel Falcao. Considering the wild celebrations Thursday, neither should have.

Less than a month after surgery, the incomparable Suarez came back Thursday to score two vital World Cup goals, and Colombia is through to the second round despite missing its star striker. Both South American teams won 2-1 Thursday, Uruguay pushing England to the brink of elimination, and Colombia beating Ivory Coast to advance from Group C after Greece and Japan played to a scoreless draw.

The results further underscored South America’s dominance of the World Cup in Brazil. The continent’s teams now have seven victories out of a possible 10.

Colombia continued to produce goals and victories even without Falcao. For Uruguay, Suarez reinvigorated its campaign after an opening 3-1 loss to Costa Rica. Uruguay is level with Italy and Costa Rica in Group D, and those teams meet Friday in Recife.

About 15 miles from the site of the Uruguay-England game in Sao Paulo, about 2,000 people protested against the World Cup, some smashing windows at banks and car dealerships and spray-painting anti-capitalist slogans on buildings.

It was the latest protest to hit Brazil, which has seen hundreds of demonstrations in the past year by people expressing anger about poor public services, corruption in government, the billions spent to host the World Cup and a litany of other complaints.

Inside the stadium, Suarez was hoisted aloft by teammates after the game as if he had won the World Cup.

“I dreamt this. I’m enjoying this moment, because of all I suffered,” Suarez said.

Earlier in the tournament, stars have been coming through for their nations: Neymar for Brazil, Robin van Persie for the Netherlands, Thomas Mueller for Germany and Lionel Messi for Argentina. Suarez got started later, but he made up for missing a game with his star performance Thursday.

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.


Not just jungle: opera in Brazil’s Amazon Cup city

MANAUS, Brazil (AP) — Inside the Teatro Amazonas, the familiar chords of a signature aria from Bizet’s “Carmen” resound among elaborate woodwork and Murano chandeliers. Outside, less than a half-kilometer away, the Rio Negro’s inky waters flow toward the Amazon River, and flocks of raucous parrots settle into treetops for the night.

The Teatro Amazonas is the symbol of Manaus, a city carved out of the rainforest, still so remote it can only be reached by plane or boat even though it has grown to over 2 million inhabitants.

With Manaus playing host to four World Cup matches, the Belle Epoque gem a must-see for the 52,000 foreigners who flooded in for the tournament, including Sunday’s match between the U.S. and Portugal.

The theater was a lavish vanity project of the rubber barons, whose plantations briefly catapulted Manaus into the ranks of the world’s wealthiest cities in the late 19th century and whose history of opulence and neglect mirrors the metropolis’ boom and bust fortunes.

“I came here for the first time in 2009,” said Cristina Gallardo-Domas, the Chilean-born soprano who recently played the title role in “Carmen” to the packed, 689-seat house here. “It was like discovering a diamond in the Amazon rain forest.”

A legislator initially proposed the theater in 1881, toward the start of the rubber boom. Ground was broken in 1884, but construction dragged on for 12 years because of disputes with contractors.

Only the finest materials were used — marble and Murano glass ferried in from Italy, steel from Britain and bronze from Belgium. The Brazilian flag-themed green, yellow and blue tiles on the dome were sourced in France’s Alsace region. The mosaic sidewalks surrounding the building — the same graphic black-and-white wave pattern famous on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach — were made from stones brought from Portugal. (A thick layer of local rubber covered the mosaic-embellished driveway to muffle the clanking of passing carriages.) Even the wood, culled from Amazon trees, was shipped back and forth to Europe for processing.

Legend has it that during its heyday, the theater was disparaged in some circles because of how often leading ladies from European troupes on tour eloped with local rubber barons.

The period of glory was brief. The theater was largely abandoned after the rise of rubber plantations in Asia burst Brazil’s rubber boom in 1912. Visiting European productions dried up, as did the public — particularly following radio’s arrival in the Amazon in the 1930s.

During World War II, the theater was transformed into a warehouse for rubber and oil shipments bound for Allied troops in Europe.

Another rough patch for the theater came during Brazil’s 1964-85 military dictatorship. Then painted a dull gray, it was mostly shuttered, hosting only the odd graduation ceremony.

But the state government launched an initiative in 1997 to breathe new life into the theater by founding the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra and an opera festival attracting top international productions. Layers of paint were removed to reveal the building’s original salmon hue.

The opera festival’s 17th edition wrapped up two weeks before the World Cup began, but the annual Festival Amazonas de Jazz was pushed up this year to coincide with the tournament. Ten concerts are being held in the theater as part of the June 26-30 festival.

The theater is also open for guided tours. Held Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the 20-minute tours cost about $4.50 per person.

“There is so much history in these walls,” marveled Marta Cabrejos, an 80-year-old retired art professor. “I never miss a show.”

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