Luis Suarez left England on the brink of a World Cup exit as his brace gave Uruguay victory in Sao Paulo.
The Liverpool striker was making his return after a month out following knee surgery – and it proved to be bad timing for England as his brilliance was the difference in a fiercely-fought encounter.
Suarez put Uruguay ahead with a first-half header then scored a superb winner six minutes from time after Wayne Rooney’s first goal at a World Cup gave England hope of avoiding a second successive Group D loss.
Defeat means the odds are now stacked against Roy Hodgson’s England escaping this tough group.
They will be out unless Italy, who beat them in Manaus, defeat Costa Rica on Friday.
England also need Italy to win their final game against Uruguay, which would then give them the chance of qualifying on goal difference if they beat Costa Rica next Tuesday.
But for all the potential, a record of played two, lost two rarely adds up to anything other than elimination at the World Cup. No side have ever progressed after losing their first two matches.
And what an anti-climax it will be for manager Hodgson and his players if England are left playing for nothing other than pride in their final group game in Belo Horizonte.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez claimed Suarez would not be fully fit for the game against England after missing his country’s opening 3-1 defeat against Costa Rica.
Suarez may not have been, but he still possessed too much guile and menace for an England team who never built on the promise they showed in losing to Italy.
Rooney struck the bar before he scored and was England’s main threat, but Uruguay – or to be more precise Suarez – produced the quality and clinical finishing that decides games such as this.
As expected, Hodgson played Rooney in a more central role and moved Raheem Sterling wide, but England struggled to find the energy levels that had fuelled such a positive performance against Italy.
Daniel Sturridge and Sterling could not pose the same threat as they had in Manaus either, Instead, it was Rooney who came closest, firing a first-half free-kick just inches wide and then powering a far-post header against the bar from one yard out.
At the back, England looked nervous and were fortunate to survive when Phil Jagielka’s sliced clearance fell to Cristian Rodriguez, whose rising drive from the angle just cleared the bar with goalkeeper Joe Hart beaten.