South Korea spoils the World Cup night for Uruguay


WAKRAH, Qatar — The world-famous head of Luis Suárez disappeared into his light blue shirt on Friday night as he sat on the bench and began to grapple with the bizarre reality that was just unfolding at Al-Janoub Stadium. The shirt trembled.

After a furious ten-minute stoppage time that looked like a back-and-forth relay race of sorts, Suarez’ Uruguay had beaten Ghana 2-0 in the final game of Group H and had bet on something going on in the Doha area, something that has noticeably changed the mood of the passionate corner of Uruguay fans.

Something amazing had happened up there at Education City Stadium.

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South Korea had scored in the first minute of injury time from Hwang Hee-chan, the 26-year-old player for England’s Wolverhampton, nicknamed ‘Bull’ in South Korea. That goal had changed the tone down here at Al Janoub. It had sent South Korea to four points in Group H, which would eventually level with the four points Uruguay would claim. Both teams were tied on goal difference. South Korea would advance to the knockout stages of 16 after scoring four goals in three group games, versus just two for Uruguay.

Group H shook like this: Portugal on six points (and already qualified since Monday), South Korea on four, Uruguay on four and Ghana on three.

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Somehow, in that odd way that sport sometimes entails, Ghana had thwarted Uruguay, 12 years after they started, beating Uruguay for a melodramatic World Cup quarter-final in South Africa, in which Suárez with a deliberate late Handball cheated to earn Bear Resentment a red card, then celebrated when Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan hit the bar with the ensuing penalty.

With that penalty, Ghana would have been the first African team to reach the semi-finals, but then later lost on penalties.

Now Ghana’s fans seemed to take a spark of pleasure in thwarting Uruguay in such a way that one team can thwart another while losing 2-0. Uruguay, whose goalkeeper Sergio Rochet saved an early penalty as part of a superb overall performance, secured the lead with goals in the 26th and 32nd minutes, both from Giorgian de Arrascaeta.

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From there Ghana hoped to score two goals somewhere and sent their fans sighing behind the goal as they missed chance after chance, mostly through bad luck. This continued into stoppage time, when any Ghanaian goal would have ruined Uruguay in an instant.

On the other hand, Ghana keeper Lawrence Ati Zigi almost leaned as if defending a lead. Around the fourth minute of stoppage time, he dove to the right to smash away a rolling, rolling threat from Maxi Gómez from 30 yards. He positioned himself well for another fearsome attempt when a superb Uruguayan in midfield brought the ball to Edinson Cavani on the right side of the box and Cavani’s cross headed down the middle for Sebastián Coates who lunged with his right foot but properly nudged with excellent defense from Daniel Amartey.

Emotions spilled over those inches until finally Suárez, the only player left from both sides of the 2010 riot, saw his World Cup career likely end at 35. Finally, he pulled the shirt off his head and made his way to the lawn to greet other players and cry some more.


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