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Uruguay win, but both teams lose in Dramatic Group H Conclusion


Uruguay v Ghana report by Jack Dixon

Despite Ghana and Uruguay having faced each other only once before, It’s a fixture with plenty of history and controversy.

The sides met in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals. The game was tied at 1-1 heading into the last minute of extra-time, when Luis Suarez handballed Dominic Adiyiah’s goal-bound header off the line. Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan stepped up, but smashed his penalty against the crossbar. Suarez watched the penalty miss from the tunnel and infamously celebrated. Uruguay went on to win the penalty shootout 4-2 and progressed to the semi-finals.

A journalist spoke to Suarez in a press-conference before the match today and mentioned how the Ghanian public describe him as “the devil himself”. Suarez refused to apologise for the incident, saying: “I did the handball, but the Ghana player missed the penalty, not me. Maybe I would apologise if I did a tackle, injured a player and took a red card. But in this situation., it’s not my fault. I didn’t miss the penalty. The player who missed the penalty, he would do the same. It’s not my responsibility how he shot the penalty.”

A large amount of the Ghana faithful obviously had negative feelings towards Uruguay going into this game, specifically towards Suarez, adding spice to what was an already intriguing game.

Forgetting the history for a moment, heading into today’s game, Ghana had been involved in two five goal thrillers, losing 3-2 to Portugal and beating South Korea 3-2. Uruguay on the other hand had two relatively uneventful games, drawing 0-0 against South Korea and losing 2-0 to Portugal.

The game itself began with both teams working out what the other was about. Ghana then won a penalty when Mohammed Kudus reacted well to a parried shot and got caught by the onrushing Uruguay goalkeeper, Sergio Rochet. There was a sense of déjà vu from 2010 for the Ghana fans, as André Ayew failed to score the penalty, with Rochet saving well and redeeming himself.

Giorgian de Arrascaeta scored two first-half goals to put the South American side 2-0 up, with Suarez assisting both goals.

Ghana played better in the second-half, showing the form from their previous group stage games. They had chances, but ultimately failed to make their mark on the scoreboard. Uruguay also created more chances throughout the game. Darwin Núñez saw his chipped effort cleared off the line and Facundo Pellistri fired wide from a good position.

South Korea’s dramatic injury-time win against Portugal meant Uruguay needed to win by three goals, only realising they needed a third goal around the 85-minute mark. Uruguay pushed towards the end of the game, causing Ghana problems, but failing to score. A moment of controversy came late on when Edinson Cavani appeared to be caught by Ghana’s Alidu Seidu, but neither the referee nor VAR deemed foul play on the veteran striker.

The result means both teams exit the World Cup. Ghana will be disappointed as fine margins have cost them at important points in their two group-stage defeats. As for Uruguay, they simply did not do enough across the three games to warrant qualification.

For Ghana, it was a day where demons from their past came back to haunt them, becoming the first side, since detailed collection began back in 1966, to miss two penalties against the same opponent at the World Cup, excluding shootouts. (Missing in the 2010 semi-final and today).

While Ghana lost and suffered that penalty miss, you wonder if there is any sense of justice or satisfaction in ensuring Uruguay’s exit from the tournament twelve years on from that eventful night in South Africa, specifically seeing pantomime villain Luis Suarez exit from what was likely the 35-year-old’s last World Cup.