Uruguay and Ghana crash out of World Cup

Uruguay win 2-0 but that wasn’t enough as S.Korea beat Portugal to qualify in the concurrent match

Great rivalries are supposed to develop over time. Ghana v Uruguay is different. They’ve only ever played each other once, in the quarter-final of the 2010 World Cup, but it was a uniquely astonishing game that created an instant rivalry.

I’m sure you know what happened: Ghana were about to score a 120th-minute winner, and become the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, when Luis Suarez pushed Dominic Adiyiah’s header off the line with both hands. He was sent off, Asamoah Gyan missed the penalty, Uruguay won the subsequent shootout and Suarez danced on Ghana’s grave.

Twelve years on here we are again in the EXACT same situation. The exact same penalty miss but this time Ghana dragging Uruguay down to be both knocked out.

In fact, the first clear chance was this penalty for Ghana. Jordan Ayew cut inside on the edge of the area and hit a low drive that is well saved by Rochet, diving low to his left. Kudus lifted the rebound over the diving Rochet and was fouled. And sad to say, it was a poor penalty from Andre Ayew. He walked up slowly and dragged a pretty tame shot towards the bottom-right corner. Rochet guessed right and kept it out with a strong left hand.

And that was the jolt Uruguay needed to dominate the rest of the first half. Nunez charged through on goal and lifts the ball stylishly over Ati-Zigi, but Salisu got back to boot the ball behind for a corner.

And then a goal for Uruguay. A cross from the right was missed by two Ghana defenders and reached Suarez beyond the far post. He cut inside and hit a rasping drive that was partially stopped to his left by Ati-Zigi; it bounced behind him and de Arrascaeta headed it gleefully into the net from a yard.

And then an even more beautiful goal shortly after. Suarez was involved again, of course he was. Pellistri cut infield from the right and lifted a pass to Nunez on the edge of the area. He headed it across to Suarez, who lobbed it cleverly over Seidu towards the unmarked De Arrascaeta. He waited for the ball to drop, twisted his body and slammed a volley under Ati-Zigi.

The second half would be better for Ghana but they wouldn’t have any goals. In fact, it was almost the perfect start for Ghana. A cross from the left reached Bukari beyond the far post, 15 yards out. He chested it down and bobbled a low shot wide of the far post. Kudus slid towards the ball, though he was offside and missed it anyway.

Meanwhile Nunez was denied a penalty appeal and Pellistri missed a great chance.

There were other huge opportunities for Ghana in the closing minutes. A loose ball ran kindly for Semenyo, 10 yards out, but he swept a left-footed shot just wide of the far post.

Shortly after, Vecino loses the ball on the edge of the D. Kudus collected it and whistled a low shot that is pushed round the post by Rocher, diving low to his right. 

But everything changed in the 83rd minute, Uruguay learned that South Korea was leading in the concurrent match against Portugal which shifted the gears out of Uruguay’s favor because as it stood, they would need one more goal to qualify. Uruguay had been coasting through the second half, content to keep Ghana at arm’s length and subbed off Suarez teared on the bench as Uruguay tried to score one more.

Cavani’s flicked header in the 85th minute is brilliantly pushed over the bar, though it wouldn’t have counted as Cavani was fractionally offside.

And Ghana, sensing the mood, started almost defending a 2-0 deficit. They should keep attacking here, because two goals would put them through but the spite they felt for Uruguay was to big.

Cavani wnet down in the area after a challenge from Seidu in the 91st minute . The referee isn’t interested, nor are Team VAR – but there was definitely a tangle of legs.

Uruguay break again, five on three, and Gomez crashes a long-range shot that is superbly pushed round the post by Ati-Zigi!

And then the last chance for Uruguay. Cavani’s low cross from the right is poked towards goal by Coates, and the lunging Amartey makes a vital block. Cavani could have gone for goal himself. 

And so with all of this Ghana and Uruguay have knocked each other out of the World Cup. It was another extraordinary double-header, and in the end Uruguay paid the price for budgeting that South Korea wouldn’t beat Portugal. They did, and finished above Uruguay on goals scored.

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