Late South Korean twist sends Uruguay home
As news came that South Korea have scored the second goal against Portugal at the Education City Stadium in the first minute of second-half injury time, the television camera panned on the Uruguayan bench.
Luis Suarez, in his last World Cup, staring at the prospect of being ousted at the group stage was crestfallen. He could not stop crying even as on the field his teammates were going all out for that third goal, the goal which would have given them the ticket to the round-of-16.
They threw everything at Ghana at the Al Janoub Stadium but Lawrence Ati Zigi stood firm. Fisting away a header, diving to stop a volley, he did everything. That was his way to take the revenge against Uruguay to whom they had lost in the 2010 World Cup quarter finals in the most dramatic fashion.
His heroics ensured that it was South Korea who go through second behind Portugal, and not Uruguay, who till that Hee-chan Hwang’s strike had one foot in the knock-out round. For the first time since 2002, Korea was one of cohosts along with Japan, Uruguay failed to extend their stay in football’s biggest tournament.
Cavani, 35 and also in his last World Cup, could not believe that his team was out, Federico Valverde seemed to be thinking what it would have been if that volley against Korea last week had hit the back of the net, Diego Godin, unused substitute on Friday, would have been cursing his luck on that header which had hit the base of the post.
Cavani later joined teammates Godin, Ronaldo Araujo and others and surrounded the match officials. They were complaining against what they thought was a legitimate penalty in the dying moments.
It was more out of frustration than any valid reason, the pain of this failure will linger long. But did Uruguay deserve to advance? Deep down they also will be saying it was one of their most insipid campaigns in recent memory. A team so rich in footballing history, a team which inflicted the Maracanazo on Brazil on that famous July 16, 1950 have this to endure.
But it was not meant to like that on Friday. World was gearing for another Brazil versus Uruguay clash as Diego Alono’s men were cruising.
Ghana missed a penalty in the 21st minute and then Uruguay, rubbed salt into the wound with two quick goals inside six minutes. The match in 32 minutes and Uruguayan were celebrating. Giorgian de Arrascaeta scored both the goals with one and only Suarez having both the assists.
Ghana got a penalty in 21st minute after VAR found Uruguay goalkeeper Sergio Rochet commiting a foul in a bid to stop Mohammed Kudus. But Andre Ayew made a mess of it as his shot a comfortably saved by Rochet.
It took us back to 2010 when Asamoah Gyan flunked following Suarez’s deliberate handball to block a certain goal at the end of extra-time. The West African country were eliminated when Uruguay went on to win the shootout after scores stood 1-1 after extra time.
But after Friday’s game Ghana exorcised the ghosts of July 2, 2010 and helped Korea to advance. Who knows boy band BTS may have a song now on Zigi and Ghana.
Al Rayyan: Croatia will approach the World Cup knockout stages with no fear because they have the ability to make life difficult for any opponent, captain Luka Modric said on Thursday after his side sealed the second place in Group F with a 0-0 draw against Belgium.
The 2018 World Cup runners-up, who face Japan in the last 16, did well to blunt a Belgian attack bristling with talent.
“I think we deserved to win,” Modric told reporters.
“It’s very important that we are in the round of 16. I don’t have any preferences for the next rounds. Whoever our opponent, is we will give our best.
“We will spare no effort whether it’s Spain, Costa Rica, Japan, or Germany. But they will also have a difficult time against Croatia.”