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FIFA World Cup: Uruguay through to Quarter finals, South Korea out

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Uruguay became the first side to make their way to the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup, beating South Korea 2-1 thanks to a Luis Suarez brace. The Koreans, for who Lee Chung Yong equalised and Park Chu-Young struck the post, bow out of the competition despite having the majority of the possession and playing their hearts out over the 90 minutes. Uruguay will now face either USA or Ghana in their first quarterfinal appearance at the World Cup since 1970.

Uruguay made only one change to their side, with Diego Godin coming back into defence at the expense of Mauricio Victorino. They lined up in what has been their own unique style with the front three of Diego Forlan dropping deep to provide the creative flow, Luis Suarez playing on the shoulder of the last defender and Edinson Cavani running the channels either side of him. The Uruguayans had begun to appear as dark horses after easily winning their Group, and history was also on their side as they had won 4 and drawn the other of the 5 times they had met the Koreans.

South Korean manager Huh Jung-Moo put out a cautious line-up, starting with only one striker and relying on the energetic trio of skipper Park Ji-Sung, Park Chu-Young and Lee Chung-Yong to trouble the Uruguayan defence. The Asians had already met their pre-tournament aim of qualifying for the Round of 16, but after putting together some decent performances in the Group stages, the morale was high in the side and they spoke of their belief of reaching the quarter-finals in the pre-match press conference.

Despite the enormity of what was at stake, both teams opened with gusto, hoping to take the game to the opposition. South Korea were unlucky not to get on the scoreboard in the 5th minute as a Park Chu-Young free kick struck the post . Uruguay created a couple of half chances, thanks in a large part to some chaotic Korean defending. And the South Americans got the lead as early as the 7th minute through a very soft goal.

forlan_suarez.jpgDiego Forlan received a pass from Cavani down the left flank, and whipped in an in-swinging cross which was allowed to bounce across the six-yard box when it should have been easily cleared. Korean goalkeeper Sung-Ryong came flying out to get to the ball but wasn't even close, leaving Luis Suarez with the entire goal to aim at right behind him.

South Korea were struggling to replicate the pace with which they played their Group matches, and their attack looked more laboured and often out-numbered as Uruguay were comfortable dealing with anything the Asians could muster. Uruguay were happy to let Korea keep the majority of the possession, as their goalkeeper, Fernando Muslera, was hardly ever forced into action. The Koreans were being kept out of the Uruguayan penalty area, with their only attempts coming from distance. Park Chu-Young and Cha Du-Ri went close on a couple of occasions, but the closest they ever came in the first half was Chu-Young's fifth minute free kick.

Uruguay went into half time with the knowledge that they were only 45 minutes away from the quarter-finals. The early goal meant that they could sit back and let the Koreans come at them. However, the Koreans had shown signs of greater urgency towards the end of the first half, but needed to work out a way to be more incisive in opening up the Uruguayan back four.

And they did just that early in the second half. Former Tottenham left-back Lee Young-Pyo made a rampaging run down the flank, skipping past a couple of defenders and crossing dangerously into the penalty area, only for his effort to be scrambled behind for a corner. Park Chu-Yong had a great opportunity immediately after, finding space about 12 yards out to shoot, but he failed to test Muslera, sending the ball well over the crossbar. The Uruguayans were by this time hardly seeing any of the ball as the Asians got a stronger hold of the match with their incessant pressure, and Park Ji-Sung forced a decent save out of the keeper with a header.

Huh Jung-Moo made a positive substitution at the hour mark, bringing on last season's top scorer in the K League, Lee Dong Gook, in place of a midfielder to add a much needed second striker. Soon after, Lugano conceded a soft free kick for knocking over Park Ji Sung on the Korean left flank. South Korea have shown on plenty of occasions the threat they carry on set pieces, and they made the South Americans pay. The cross made its way to Lee Chung Yong, who headed home with Muslera caught in two minds deciding whether or not to come off his line. Korea had the equaliser they deserved, and the momentum was also on their side.

That goal brought the game to life, as Uruguay tried to get men forward for the first time since the opening goal. Korea nearly struck twice on the break, and were clearly confident that the game was theirs for the taking. But it was now Uruguay's turn to control possession, and they took the lead in the 80th minute through a Luis Suarez scorcher. Suarez received the ball on the left side of the Korean penalty area after a corner, managed to find a yard of space and curled in a beautiful shot around the Korean goalkeeper that went in off the post.

Needing an equaliser in ten minutes plus injury time, Korea again poured men forward. Park Ji Sung released Lee Dong Gook with a brilliant through ball, and Dong Gook's low shot was only half saved by Muslera with the ball having crawled under his body. Unfortunately for the Asians, the wet surface slowed down the ball which was cleared by Lugano. On any other day, that could have well made its way across the goal line, but Dong Gook should have done better anyway.

Uruguay managed to hold on for a win, having taken off Luis Suarez to add another man in midfield. They will now face the winner of the evening game between USA and Ghana in the quarter-finals, and would go into that match with a lot of confidence believing that they have atleast one more step in them. However, they would do well not to play so negatively after taking the lead. They were fortunate that Korea lacked quality in front of goal, and a better side would probably make them pay.


The South Koreans were distraught at the end, having lost out to a goalkeeping mistake and a high quality strike. But the Asians will bow out with their heads held high. Manager Huh Jung-Moo maybe should have added another striker much earlier on, having seen his side dominate possession yet fail to make a great impact. They manner of the defeat would hurt them, but they proved on the night how far they've come in the footballing world since co-hosting the 2002 World Cup.


Uruguay (4-4-2): Muslera; Godin (Victorino 45'), Lugano, Fucile, M. Pereira; Arevalo, Perez, A. Pereira (Lodeiro 74'), Cavani; Suarez (Fenrandez 84'), Forlan

South Korea(4-4-1-1): Sung-Ryong; Jung-Soo, Yong-Hyung, Young-Pyo, Du-Ri; Sung-Yeung (Ki Huen 85'), Jung-Woo, Jae-Sung (Dong Gook 61'), Chung-Yong; Ji-Sung; Chu-Young

Final Score: Uruguay 2-1 South Korea (Uruguay: Luis Suarez 8', 80', South Korea: Chung Yong 68')

Photo by 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa

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