Uruguay vs. South Korea 2010 FIFA World Cup: Luis Suarez Extends Latin Dominance

June 26th, 2010 by Neal Collins Leave a reply »

Uruguay clinically disposed of plucky South Korea in Port Elizabeth, their 2-1 win secured by the consummate finishing of Ajax striker Luis Suarez.

A cracking game to start the knockout phase, but no surprise. By my calculations, South American teams have played 16 games at South Africa 2010, coming away with 11 wins, four draws, and a single, meaningless 2-1 defeat by 10-man Chile at the hands of Spain in the last game of the group phase.

To give them their full name, the República Oriental del Uruguay (the Eastern Republic of Uruguay) survived the rain, a late equaliser, a dismal crowd, and an appalling surface to continue the CONMEBOL dominance of this World Cup—and reach the last eight for the first time since 1970.

With a population of just 3.5 million, Uruguay are hardly a huge nation. On land size alone, they are the second-smallest country in Latin American (after tiny Surinam), but become the first side from South America—apart from big guns Argentina and Brazil—to reach the World Cup quarterfinals since Peru in 1978.

It was hardly a classic, but it was pretty absorbing, unlike the surface at the brand new Nelson Mandela Bay stadium, which was cutting up badly.

Uruguay took an early lead after just eight minutes when former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan saw his cross slip past an embarrassed Jung Sung-Ryong, leaving Suarez to slot into an empty net. Predictably, the Group A winners—who left France and South Africa in their wake—shut up shop for a while after that.

South Korea, representing Asian dreams, had it all to do, and when a 68th-minute free kick floated into the Uruguay box, it looked like we were headed for extra-time, and possibly even penalties. Maurico Victorino could only flick on, and Bolton's Lee Chung-Yong headed past Fernando Muslera for the equaliser amid incredibly soggy scenes.

But 10 minutes from time, Suarez produced the champagne moment to clinch it. A Uruguay corner from the right ended up with Nicolas Lodeiro. He offered the ball to Suarez, who had nowhere to go. So he eased past a defender and sent a wonderful winner curling in off the far post. Cue hysteria.

Suarez will now be linked with all the big money clubs in Europe. He’s 23, but is a bit too dramatic for my liking. But he scored 35 goals in 33 games for Ajax last season. And in three Ere Divisie seasons, he’s got 74 in 94 games.

With Forlan pulling the strings in front of a defence that has conceded just one goal in the tournament so far, who will bet against “South America’s Switzerland” beating the winners of the Ghana vs. USA game at Soccer City on July 2 and reaching a semifinal against Brazil in Cape Town?

They’ve won it twice before. The last triumph was in Brazil 60 years ago. Even Uruguayans can dream.

See also: Soweto: The ultimate World Cup destination: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mUVdUk0GMQ

Neal Collins is in South Africa to marvel at the South Americans, pray for England... and promote his first novel A GAME APART, the real story behind this World Cup. For more information see www.nealcollins.co.uk .

This story was originally syndicated from Bleacher Report - Front Page.
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