Doha. — When football historians review this World Cup, it may well be remembered as the tournament that presided the last rites over a generation of great players.
Leo Messi’s fate remains unclear and here Luis Suarez, English anti-hero outside of Liverpool, looked a player on his last legs.
His stats from this game were zero shots, zero chances created, two touches in the opposition box and seven passes. One of those was kick off. He had 18 touches and won a single duel.
He traipsed off on 65 minutes to be replaced by his former strike partner Edinson Cavani. Yet there no World Cup heroics here.
His past iconic interventions include making the ‘save of the tournament’ with last-minute handball on the line to enable Uruguay to reach the semis in 2010, for which he was suspended taking the red card for the greater good of the team; beating England on one leg in 2014 before taking a bite out of Giorgio Chiellini; and reaching the quarter finals in 2018.
Rarely is life dull when Suarez is around. However, it was here in Doha as this is also fast becoming the safety first World Cup: 14 games completed with four games – more 25 per cent – scoreless draws.
In tight groups — and Group H looks the most well matched of all, with Portugal and Ghana — the law of lowest risk seems to be prevail. Don’t lose your opening match is the World Cup mantra ignored by Germany and Argentina but hard wired into the mid-ranking teams.
Uruguay and Korea had a fair smattering of superstars, including Son Heung Min, complete with face mask after surgery for the fracture close to his eye, while Uruguay started with formidable front line of Darwin Nunez, Luis Suarez and Manchester United loanee Facundo Pellistri. Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde and Spurs’ Rodrigo Bentancur held the midfield.
Yet despite the all-star cast, the first half was generally low quality characterised by nerves and lack of clinical delivery, be it in the final pass or finishing. However, there was no questioning the excellence of the Jose Gimenez cross field pass for Valverde on 20 minutes, yet the Real Madrid sent his swerving shot just over.
There was another superb Gimenez pass from defence in 23 minutes for Pellistri, who nodded it across goal yet Nunez couldn’t even make a connection, though he received a sly nudge off the ball from Kim Minjae.
Uruguay looked ready to open the scoring on 28 minutes when Mathias Olivera raced clear on the counter. Yet he then over-hit his pass so poorly for Nunez that goalkeeper Kim Seunggyu was able to block the oncoming shot.
There was even worse finishing from Korea on 38 minutes, with Hwang Uijo played in ten yards from goal, yet leaning back and lifting his strike well over the bar.
Just before the break, centre half Diego Godin almost showed them how it is done connected with Valverde’s corner with a towering header, but saw his effort rebound off the post.
Nunez did have a powerful run down the left to beat the full back but then couldn’t find the angle to find Suarez on 50 minutes.
Nunez then had a shot just wide form 20 yards on 80 minutes.
Right at the death, we had a moment of genuine world class quality from Valverde. On 90 minutes he sized up a strike from 20 yards and connected beautifully only to see it rattle the goal as it bounced off the post. It was though the post had decided we don’t deserve nice things. Like goals. — Dailymailsport.
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