Suarez sees off South Korea
Uruguay became the first team to reach the World Cup quarter-finals after a Luis Suarez brace sealed a 2-1 victory over South Korea.
Last Updated: 26/06/10 5:15pm
Uruguay became the first team to reach the World Cup quarter-finals after a Luis Suarez brace sealed a 2-1 victory over South Korea in Port Elizabeth.
Suarez capitalised on uncertainty in the South Korea defence to break the deadlock after just eight minutes and it looked for a long time as though Uruguay would only need one goal as their disciplined backline remained solid.
But Lee Chung-yong equalised with a header midway through the second half and it required an excellent late goal from Suarez to take Uruguay through.
Oscar Tabarez's side had not conceded a single goal in their three group games but nearly fell behind after just five minutes when Park Chu-young curled a free-kick against the outside of Fernando Muslera's post.
South Korea's bright start was undone just three minutes later as Diego Forlan whipped in a low cross between a hesitant defence and goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong, who went to ground without making an effort to grab the ball and allowed Suarez to provide the simplest of finishes at the back post.
Having taken an early lead, Uruguay began to control the game with some comfort, staying organised at the back and keeping possession patiently in midfield despite a poor surface at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The onus was on South Korea to take the attack to Uruguay but they struggled to create many openings, although their passing was fluent and easy on the eye in areas that were not particularly dangerous.
Skipper Park Ji-sung threatened with one run down the left wing, while Chu-young lashed a powerful shot narrowly wide from the edge of the area and Cha Du-ri's venomous strike from even further out dipped just over the crossbar.
Uruguay always carried a threat on the counter-attack due to the potency of their front trio and had a confident penalty appeal waved away on the stroke of half-time when Maximiliano Pereira's shot struck the arm of Cho Yong-hyung in the box.
Uruguay, who replaced Diego Godin with Mauricio Victorino at half-time, had the first opportunity of the second half as Suarez seized on a stray pass from Kim Jung-woo and fired straight at Sung-ryong from distance.
One problem for South Korea at the other end of the pitch was the physical strength of Uruguay's defenders, with Jorge Fucile shrugging off Kim Jae-sung as he attempted to get on the end of a deflected Lee Young-pyo delivery from the left flank.
But there was far more urgency about South Korea at the start of the second period and the lively Chu-young squandered their best chance to date when he latched onto Diego Lugano's headed clearance and blazed high.
Muslera had barely been tested in the Uruguay goal all tournament and, perhaps feeling that he wanted to get noticed, made an elaborate diving save to clutch hold of Ji-sung's well-directed header.
The Uruguay keeper was finally beaten in the 68th minute when he weakly tried to claim a loose ball and Bolton winger Chung-yong nodded in from close range past a scrambling Fucile on the line.
The match suddenly exploded into life as Uruguay started to venture forward once again, with opportunities coming and going for both teams.
Chung-yong shot straight at Muslera after being released down the right, while at the other end Sung-ryong almost stepped back over his line as he caught a looping Forlan free-kick.
Suarez was denied by a decent save from Sung-ryong from a tight angle and then headed wide after beating the offside trap.
But the Ajax frontman has just come off a prolific campaign in the Eredivisie and he demonstrated why he is regarded as one of the most exciting young strikers in world football with a stunning finish to settle the tie 10 minutes from time.
The 23-year-old stepped inside a challenge in the corner of the penalty area after South Korea had failed to deal with a set-piece and then curled a sublime shot past Sung-ryong and in off the post.
Substitute Lee Dong-gook almost drew South Korea level late on when his effort squeezed under Muslera's dive, only for a covering defender to clear the ball before it crept over the line.It proved to be South Korea's last chance as Uruguay held on in the driving rain to clinch a place in the last eight and a meeting with either USA or Ghana.
|Uruguay||Team Statistics||South Korea|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|7||Shots on Target||4|
|4||Shots off Target||7|