Suarez 8, 80
KOREA REPUBLIC 1
Uruguay defeated Korea Republic 2-1 at a wet Nelson Mandela Bay stadium as they secured a World Cup quarter final place for the first time since 1970. Uruguay were the more solid team but South Korea created numerous opportunities to take the game into extra time. The telling difference was the South Americans’ quality in front of goal which carried them through.
Going into today’s match Uruguay had not conceded a goal in the tournament and with Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez up top the South Americans are one of the dark horses. Four minutes into the game Korea’s Park Chu Young nearly became the man to break the Uruguayan backline when his curling free kick from 25 yards struck the outside of the post with Fernando Muslera rooted to the spot. But just four minutes later the Uruguay strikers showed their class and the Koreans their soft side. A Forlan cross evaded keeper Jung Sung-Ryong and Luis Suarez tapped into an empty net after full back Lee-Young-Pyo was caught sleeping. From this point the two time winners just looked to counter attack by sitting in, confident of their ability to keep out the 2002 semi-finalists. This continued to work with Godin and Lugano solid as a rock while Forlan created another scoring opportunity for Suarez who tamely headed to the goalkeeper from eight yards. A clear shout for a penalty was turned down when Ki-Sung Yeung clearly handled Suarez’s strike. At half-time coach Oscar Tabarez looked satisfied with how his side led and contained Korea throughout.
Korea showed endeavour and spirit and deservedly got an equaliser when for the first time there was a chink in the Uruguay defence when they failed to clear a free kick, goalkeeper Muslera found himself in no man’s land and Lee Chung-Yong headed home. Chances were being created at will but the quality in the final third of the pitch was missing. Although the Asian side had more possession than the South Americans you can see why they were the lowest ranked team left in the tournament. The fragile defence again let them down with the goals and when Uruguay rarely decided to attack the 47th ranked team in the world panicked, something coach Huh Jung-moo will have to address if they are to develop in the future.
The Koreans lack quality of depth in attacking areas. Park Chu-Young looked lively and the most likely but lacked the composure needed in front of goal to get his side level. It was bits and pieces football from the Asians, and when they did get in there was no real belief or conviction in their finishing. On the other hand Uruguay do not have that problem – in Suarez and Forlan they have a partnership who have 77 goals between them this season and with their ability to strike at any given time it makes Tabarez’s side dangerous to any opposition. With ten minutes Uruguay struck again. Suarez, who scored 49 goals for Ajax last season, executed a brilliant curling shot across the goalkeeper which went in off the post. This piece of brilliance was the difference between the two sides and shows why strikers go for the most money.
All over the field Uruguay shut down the ball and almost said to the Koreans: ‘try and score against us and if you do we can score again’. The only worry for Tabarez would be how his seemingly unbeatable defence were broken by a simple free-kick. Also his side have failed to play anyone that has put them under extreme pressure which may expose a weakness in the later stages. However up the other end he has the ammunition to make any team stand up and take notice. Uruguay are not here to mess around they seriously believe they can add to their two World Cups
Uruguay – Muslera -Lugano, Godin (Victorino 46), Fucile, M. Pereira – Perez, Arevalo, A. Pereira (Lodeiro 74) – Cavani, Suarez (A. Fernandez 84), Forlan
Korea Republic – Sung-ryong – Du-ri, Young-pyo, Yong-hyung, Jung-soo – Jung-woo, Sung-yeung (Ki-hun 85), Jae-sung (Dong-gook 60), Ji-sung – Chung-yong, Chu-young