The most dramatic World Cup in recent memory has served up another incredible group stage finish as South Korea pulled off a miracle escape and Uruguay had its heart broken.
The South Koreans trailed Group H winner Portugal before scoring in injury time to pull off a 2-1 win. The result meant Uruguay was one goal short in a 2-0 win against Ghana — and the South Americans reacted furiously.
“This is crazy, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Craig Foster said in the SBS studio. “Going down to literally the last kick of so many games, this is just extraordinary drama.
“This World Cup, it’s just been absolutely mad.”
The morning continues with 6am (AEDT) clashes between Cameroon and Brazil, and Serbia and Switzerland.
How to watch and stream the 2022 World Cup
4.15am — Uruguay’s ‘unacceptable’ referee attack slammed
Uruguay’s frustration at a pair of penalty claims in its 2-0 win against Ghana erupted in ugly scenes as its players got in the face of the referee and followed him down the tunnel.
Several players made physical contact with German official Daniel Siebert and yelled angrily in his face after the South Americans crashed out of the World Cup despite their victory.
Australian commentator and former Socceroo Craig Foster slammed the behaviour.
“It was bad scenes afterwards,” Foster said in the SBS studio. “There’s no need for the Uruguayan players to be confronting the referee and pushing and shoving. That stuff is unacceptable, they shouldn’t be doing it.”
“But it’s going to happen with high emotions,” Mark Bosnich replied.
Giorgian De Arrascaeta netted twice in quick succession in the first half, with 35-year-old Luis Suarez having a hand in both goals.
However, Suarez finished the match on the bench in tears as the news came in of South Korea’s last-gasp victory over Portugal, which meant the Asian side had moved above the Uruguayans into second place in Group H on goals scored.
Veteran striker Suarez had been at the centre of the pre-match build-up because of his infamous handball in the 2010 quarter-finals, which helped eliminate Ghana.
His name was booed loudly by the Ghana fans when it was read out by the stadium announcers and he got the same treatment every time he touched the ball.
He was also leading the protests when Ghana were awarded a penalty in the 19th minute.
Mohammed Kudus had initially been ruled offside when he was brought down by Uruguay goalkeeper Sergio Rochet but after that decision was overturned referee Daniel Siebert gave the spot-kick after checking the pitchside monitor.
But Andre Ayew’s tame effort was easily saved by Rochet and with Ghana’s fans silent in disbelief, Uruguay made them pay.
Darwin Nunez was denied by Mohammed Salisu’s brilliant goalline clearance but in the 26th minute De Arrascaeta nodded in from close range after brilliant work from Suarez.
Collecting a poor cross from the right which evaded two Ghana defenders, Suarez cut inside Alidu Seidu and hit a powerful low shot that squirmed through Lawrence Ati Zigi’s hands. It was edging towards the goal when De Arrascaeta pounced.
Six minutes later Uruguay gave Ghana a mountain to climb when Arrascaeta hit a sublime volley at the end of superb team move, Suarez providing a first-time assist from Nunez’s knockdown.
Ghana were let off the hook by Siebert just before the hour mark when he ruled that Daniel Amartey had touched the ball while tackling Nunez in the area.
That decision would turn out to be crucial as another goal would have put Uruguay through.
“I thought this on first view this was a penalty,” Bosnich said in the SBS studio post-game.
“On the second view it was close in terms of he did get a slight touch of the ball but I thought it was still a penalty on the second view.”
But Foster disagreed. “It did look a pen because the camera was so far away, but to me it’s a fantastic use of VAR because he gets the ball and when you get the ball, it’s not as though you aren’t allowed to have any contact, but you must get the ball first,” he said.
Suarez was booed and cheered in equal measure by the crowd when he was substituted for Edinson Cavani in the 66th minute.
Ghana struggled to create anything in response. The closest they came to pulling a goal back came with nine minutes remaining, when Rochet brilliantly tipped away Kudus’s powerful low drive.
Uruguay then realised they needed another goal and poured forward but were unable to find the breakthrough.
4.10am AEDT ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’
Ever since Uruguay’s incredibly controversial win over Ghana at the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg, the Africans have been smarting.
Today Ghana lost to Uruguay again – yet in many ways they still won. They saw their opponents dreams dashed not by their hands, but by South Korea’s in a completely different match.
For Ghana, “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” said one on Twitter. Particularly as Luis Suárez was present in both matches.
Let’s go back to 2010 and the crucial quarterfinal match between Ghana and Uruguay.
Nearing full time, the score was 1-1 and Ghana were on the brink of being the first African team to reach the semi-finals.
A shot at the goal was set to secure their place when Uruguay’s Luis Suárez blocked the ball with his hands.
Ghana then missed the penalty and images of Suárez wildly celebrating Ghana’s misfortune went around the globe.
Uruguay went onto win denying Ghana’s what would have been its historic place in football history. The handball earned Suárez the nickname “the devil” in Ghana.
In today’s match, Suárez helped set up the two goals for Uruguay against Ghana. He was then substituted out and spent much of the rest of the match on the bench grinning as his team cruised to victory and a place in the final 16.
That was until, in the dying minutes of its clash against Portugal – happening at exactly the same time – South Korea went 2-1 up. A win could dash Uruguay’s dream. The team had to score once more against Ghana to qualify on goal difference.
They couldn’t. And South Korea – not Uruguay – have gone through.
In the first half, when Uruguay scored twice against Ghana, it was being called a “nightmare” for the African team as they repeated their 2010 loss. And lose they did, but surely they’ll smile a bit knowing their opponents are out too and “the devil” saw it first hand.
4.06am AEDT FULL TIME Uruguay 2-0 Ghana
Uruguay have prevailed over Ghana – but their World Cup dream is over.
South Korea and Portugal have qualified from group H to the final 16.
4am AEDT Eight minutes for Uruguay to find a goal
Uruguay have to find a goal within eight minutes or they are out of the World Cup.
Despite them leading Ghana 2-0, a late win by South Korea over Portugal means the Latin American team can now only qualify if they score another goal against Ghana.
It all comes down to the goal difference.
3.55pm AEDT FULL TIME Portugal 1-2 South Korea
The South Koreans wins. It all rests on Uruguay now as to whether the they go through to the final 16.
3.50pm AEDT South Korea goal could kill Uruguay’s dream
Absolute scenes in Doha as Hwang Hee-chan scores for South Korea sending them into the lead over Portugal.
That won’t worry Portugal too much as they’re already through to the last 16. But if South Korea win they will almost certainly go through too – at the expense of Uruguay.
They would be crushing for Uruguay who have had a tremendous game against Ghana and were on the cusp of qualification.
Only more goals from Uruguay can save the Latin Americans.
Portugal 1-2 South Korea
2.55am AEDT Half time and Ghana are being tormented
The African nation is in 2010 all over again. Just like in South Africa, Uruguay will potentially deny Ghana entry to the final 16. Two goals by Giorgian De Arrascaeta have been ably assisted by Luis Suárez.
Ricardo Horta got the first goal in the Portugal – South Korea clash putting the Europeans one up in 5 minutes. But Kim Young-gwon fired back at 27 minutes.
Portugal are in the top 16 from group H so it’s a scrappy fight between the remaining three nations.
Uruguay 2-0 Ghana
Portugal 1-1 South Korea
2.40am AEDT ‘Nightmare’ for Ghana as Uruguay go 2 up
This is shaping up to be everything the African nation didn’t want to happen.
Within little more than 30 minutes from the whistle Uruguay have scored twice – and Luis “the devil” Suárez has been crucial in each one.
It’s Giorgian De Arrascaeta again at the 32 minute mark, just six minutes after his last goal.
As one said on Twitter, this is Ghana’s “nightmare” scenario – denied entry to the next round by Uruguay which did the same in very controversial circumstances in Johannesburg in 2010.
2.30am AEDT South Korea level pegging with Portugal
Portugal are already through and South Korea are doing everything they can to join them in the final 16.
The Europeans stook the lead in the opening minutes but at 27 minutes in the ball bounced off the back of Cristiano Ronaldo to Kim Young-gwon who hooked it in.
Portugal 1-1 South Korea.
2.30am AEDT Ghana reliving nightmare of 2010
Ghana is reliving nightmares of the 2010 World Cup.
Then the African powerhouse met Uruguay to see who would progress to the final 16.
A notorious handball by striker Luis Suárez denied Ghana a goal which led to a penalty which the team missed (more on that below).
Ghana were up for another penalty just a few minutes into Friday’s match at the Al Janoub Stadium – and they missed again.
Uruguay then came back and scored. It’s 1-0 to the Latin Americans and Ghana are in pain.
Even worse, the goal from Giorgian De Arrascaeta was set up by Suárez.
2am AEDT Ghana’s rematch with ‘the devil’
African powerhouse Ghana take on Uruguay in what could be an angry encounter following bad blood from a match 12 years ago.
The teams met at the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg. Nearing full time, the score was 1-1 and Ghana were on the brink of being the first African team to reach the semi-finals.
A shot at the goal was set to secure their place when Uruguay’s Luis Suárez blocked the ball with his hands.
Suárez was red carded and Ghana were allowed a penalty – which they missed. Images of Suárez wildly celebrating Ghana’s misfortune went around the globe.
Uruguay then won on penalties denying Ghana’s what would have been its historic place in football history.
The handball earned Suárez the nickname “the devil” in Ghana.
And he has no regrets. At a press conference before Friday’s match, Suárez was asked if he wanted to apologise.
“Maybe, I can say I apologise if I injure the player and take a red card.
“But I don’t apologise about that,” he said of the incident.
“This is not my fault because I didn’t miss. It’s not my responsibility to shoot the penalty.”
A victory by Ghana will see it through to the final 16 – at Uruguay’s expense. Fellow Africa nation Senegal are already there.
Ghana’s coach Otta Addo is sanguine about the controversy.
“If the same incident would have happened the other way around and Ghana would proceed to the semi-finals, everybody would say: ‘OK, it’s normal that a player will do anything he can.’
“This is what I wish from every player, to do all he can to help his team qualify to serve and sometimes sacrificing himself with a red card.”
10.30pm AEDT: World Cup conspiracy ‘all makes sense’
The football world is still in disbelief after Germany were booted from the World Cup in the group stages for the second straight time.
But the traditional powerhouse are smelling something fishy — or at least hoping for something — as the German people try to figure out just what went wrong.
German media has raised the theory that Japan and Spain may have colluded to ensure both teams safely made it to the next round.
Entering the day, Spain were on top of the ladder and had all but booked a spot in the next round — only a 9-0 German win and Spanish loss could have seen the side miss the knockout stages.
But for Japan, a win was the only way it could be assured of victory — a draw would have sent Germany through after its 4-2 win over Costa Rica.
Before the match, German outlet Bild pointed out Spain and Japan had a relationship relating to youth and women’s football as well as referee training.
Japan also now face 2018 runner’s up Croatia, while Spain play Group F toppers Morocco, who haven’t made it out of the group stage since 1986.
While it all seemed like talk before the match, there were some true believers converted after full-time.
Add to it hosts Qatar’s glee in sending Germany off as TV hosts covered their mouths and waved goodbye after the result, referring to the German protest before the tournament opener, and fans have got themselves a conspiracy.
Or maybe Germany should have won against Japan and/or Spain and none of the other machinations would have mattered …