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After losing to Costa Rica in their first match, Uruguay needed a strong performance against England -- and they sealed victory thanks to two goals from Luis Suarez, who missed that defeat with an injury.
"We were surprised about our defeat against Costa Rica, not because we weren't good but because our wishes and expectations were different. It wouldn't have been possible to win today if we weren't committed," Tabarez told a news conference.
"Motivation is the something that comes from the inside, so it's not just about what I say or I do, it's very important for the players to be convinced and motivated themselves.
"We have been able to prove that we can fight and we are alive. After this victory, of course our intention will be to win against Italy. Today, we have been able to apply what we have learned and trained to do.
"We started well in the second half and we managed to score after England were playing well. For a moment, we were 1-1 and that was a difficult situation because England scored, but we were able to recover and win the game."
Tabarez gave credit to England, saying they had offered a difficult challenge, but added that it was beneficial that his players, many of whom play in Europe, were familiar with the English game.
"Considering the players we have, we tried to decide what would be best to face England and to try to neutralise them," he explained. "We tried to adapt our team accordingly to win the game. We knew that we had to control and limit the four English forwards and the midfield. Those were our objectives. Some of our players also know English football very well."
The manager singled out forward Edinson Cavani for tracking back to frustrate England captain Steven Gerrard.
"We tried to control England's strength. They are really strong and have no weaknesses. They have four strikers who are all goalscorers," he said. "I think Cavani played an important role in neutralising that. Most of the time, Cavani was facing Gerrard and stopping him. That was key.
"This game showed England's persistence and the will of my players. They kept fighting. Maybe we didn't play attractive football, but our players gave everything. They have a really close relationship with themselves and love their country. For us, this is very important."
Uruguay are level on points with Costa Rica and Italy but, with an inferior goal difference, Tabarez knows a draw may not be enough for his team to advance should England fail to beat Costa Rica.
"The next game is a different game. We have to keep training because at this level, winning and losing is decided on very little things," the manager said.
"We know that we have to be as committed in our match against Italy as we were today. It's going to be a very physical game. We have to play at a high pace and high intensity.
"We have more experience playing against Italy and we think we will be prepared, but [Cesare] Prandelli is a great coach."