Uruguay floor Italy

Uruguay floor Italy

ITALY 0

URUGUAY 1

(Diego Godin 81) 

It appeared all doom and gloom after the first game.

Beaten soundly by minnows Costa Rica in the opening game of Group D, so aptly termed the "Group of Death", Uruguay looked unlikely to replicate their sterling performance at the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa, where they finished fourth.

Their talisman, Luis Suarez, was half-fit, and many doubted he could inspire La Celeste to two victories against the likes of England and Italy.

England were demolished, and Italy, who for 80 minutes in Natal this morning (Singapore time) kept the door bolted against Suarez and strike partner Edinson Cavani.

In the end, though, the two-time world champions from South America dug deep, and conjured up a 1-0 triumph to dump out Cesare Prandelli's Azzurri.

Uruguay's goal, a header by Diego Godin off a corner kick, took everyone by surprise.

Fans were in disbelief - and perhaps amused - at what happened just seconds before.

Italian stopper Giorgio Chiellini, who for most of the game was at his destructive best in stopping Suarez from tearing the Italian defence apart, was left fuming when the Liverpool striker bared his teeth, again.

In echoes of his infamous chomp on Branislav Ivanovic in a Premier League tussle between Liverpool and Chelsea, Suarez bit into Chiellini's shoulder, an act not seen by Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez.

It was a move which epitomised Uruguay for so much of the game.

The first winners of the World Cup - in 1930 - were for so long shut out as Italy called upon the infamous "catenaccio". In Italian, the term means "door-bolt", implying a highly organised, obdurate defence.

When midfielder Claudio Marchisio was shown a straight red for stamping his studs into Jose Gimenez's calf, it simply gave Italy more impetus to defend.

Until Godin unlocked it, his attempted header seeing the ball bouncing off his shoulder past Gianluigi Buffon.

There was no way back for the Italians with only 10 men on the pitch, although they did give it a heroic effort.

Uruguay and the biting Suarez will live to fight another day in Brazil, the country where they last lifted the World Cup in 1950.

Who would've thought after the 3-1 humiliation at the hands of Costa Rica?

Suarez, perhaps. He could pay the ultimate price and be banned for the rest of the tournament for his bite on Chiellini, but it is clear that not since Diego Maradona in 1986 has a side been so lifted by the presence of one man.

He did not score against Italy, but "The Cannibal" played like a man still nursing his wounds and definitely left his mark.

Italy go home, and Uruguay move on, by the skin of their teeth.


This article was first published on June 25, 2014.
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