JOHANNESBURG - Uruguay are enjoying their
best World Cup in 40 years and the way they overcame a spirited
South Korea with a Luis Suarez double suggested their ambitions
can stretch at least as far as the semi-finals.
All five of the South American sides made it into the
knockout phase and Saturday's victory only strengthened the
feeling that it will take a team with a perfectly executed game
plan to prevent one of them winning it.
South Korea, for all their bustling energy going forward,
did not have the required nerve in front of goal or discipline
at the back to deal with Uruguay, as Suarez secured a 2-1 win
for the twice world champions in pouring rain at Port Elizabeth.
Mistakes at crucial times simply made life too easy for the
An excruciating error from goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong handed
Suarez his first goal and made it tough for South Korea almost
from the start.
A headed Lee Chung-Yong equaliser was reward for their
commitment but, while more pragmatic sides would have counted
their luck, shut up shop for the last 22 minutes and looked for
extra-time and penalties, South Korea continued to attack.
South American teams have been ruthless in picking off sides
showing too much ambition and it was no surprise to see Uruguay
re-establish their lead, though it took an outstanding finish
from Suarez to do it.
South Korea created clear chances either side of that second
Uruguay goal but Lee Chung-Yong and substitute Lee Dong-Gook could not come up with the cool response required when they
found themselves perfectly placed in front of goal.
The Koreans bow out having achieved their best performance
at a World Cup on foreign soil but there will be a nagging
feeling among their fans that more was possible from a
technically gifted squad perhaps too fond of intricate build-up.
For Uruguay, who won the last of their two World Cups in
1950, the path suddenly looks clear to the last four with either
the United States or Ghana to come in their first quarter-final
appearance since 1970.
Coach Oscar Tabarez has two talented, in-form forwards in
Suarez and Diego Forlan, who set up the first goal and produced
another tireless, threatening display, and a defence that has
conceded just one goal all tournament.
A third World Cup triumph still looks overly optimistic but
if future opponents continue to make such naive mistakes expect
a team with surging confidence to keep taking full advantage.
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