In what was another remarkable round of World Cup fixtures on Friday, both Ghana and Uruguay saw their World Cup adventures come to a stunning end at the Al Janoub Stadium.
While the Black Stars might have been desperate to gain some revenge for their 2010 heartbreak, a Giorgian de Arrascaeta first-half brace helped the South American giants claim a 2-0 victory.
With André Ayew missing what turned out to be a crucial early penalty, it was eventually South Korea that sent both of the World Cup rivals packing after a stunning end to Group H.
With the Asian heavyweights springing a major upset as they snatched a last-gasp 2-1 victory against Portugal, Uruguay’s heartbreak couldn’t be hidden at the final whistle as they missed out on a knockout stage ticket by a single goal.
In an afternoon of more World Cup drama at the Al Janoub Stadium, we have taken a look at some of the key talking points.
Too little, too late for La Celeste
Opening up their World Cup adventure last month with many feeling that Uruguay were the standout pick to claim a silver medal finish in Group H, La Celeste have had little to cheer about this winter.
Getting their Qatar quest underway with a sluggish 0-0 stalemate against South Korea on November 24th, Diego Alonso’s men have struggled to find top gear and they have often looked like a shadow of their former selves.
While Flamengo’s De Arrascaeta might have really caught the eye as the 28-year-old bagged a first-half brace, Uruguay have been desperately seeking a clinical edge in the final third.
Although the South American giants might have finally bagged their first Group H victory at the third attempt here, it proved to be meaningless following South Korea’s stunning last-gasp winner against Portugal.
Drawing back-to-back blanks in their opening two World Cup appearances, Alonso’s heartbroken squad will also know that they missed out on a golden chance this year.
Eventually crashing out of this year’s tournament thanks to a single goal in Korea’s favour, this is the first time since 2002 that Uruguay have failed to make it out of the group stage.
Defensive struggles cost Ghana
Eventually claiming what was a thrilling 3-2 victory against South Korea earlier in the week, Ghana opened Friday’s showdown knowing that they had their destiny in their own hands.
However, while the former AFCON champions might have also been desperate to claim some revenge 12 years on from their infamous meeting against Uruguay, Otto Addo’s side were once again haunted by some rather glaring defensive issues.
With Ayew missing from the spot after being awarded a controversial penalty after just 21 minutes, the Black Stars failed to offer much in the final third after returning from the interval chasing a 2-0 deficit.
Opening their World Cup adventure with a hectic 3-2 loss at the hands of Portugal on November 24th, Ghana shipped seven strikes in their three Group H appearances – the joint second-worst defensive tally across all of the World Cup groups.
Eventually finishing rock-bottom of the Group H table, Addo’s squad will be more than aware that they let a historic chance slip through their fingers at the Al Janoub Stadium.
While Ghana might take some mild comfort in the fact that their bitter rivals also saw their World Cup tour come to an early end, the African powerhouse have now failed to book a knockout stage spot since 2010.
End of the road for Uruguay’s veterans
Seen in floods of tears at the final whistle after knowing they were seconds away from finding a route out of Group H, this was clearly not how Suarez and the rest of Uruguay’s veterans wanted to see their international adventures come to an end.
With the ex-Liverpool man still clearly a huge part of La Celeste’s plans this winter, it appears that this is also the end of the road for both Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin.
With all three of Uruguay’s iconic trio failing to find their best with much fluidity in the Middle East, this will almost certainly be the last time that they represent their nation on the major tournament stage.
Although both Rodrigo Bentancur and Federico Valverde might have continued to form an eye-catching partnership at the heart of Uruguay’s midfield, the South American giants will need to almost start from scratch over the next couple of years.
Still looking for Liverpool’s new record-signing Darwin Nunez to fully find his feet in Alonso’s set-up, there is no doubt that La Celeste have plenty of gaps that need to be filled.
With some back home feeling that their aging squad have struggled to evolve over recent times, Uruguay and their veteran superstars will now have questions to answer.
Ghana: Ati-Zigi, Seidu, Amartey, Salisu, Rahman, Partey, Samed, Williams, A. Ayew, J. Ayew, Kudus
Subs: Bukari, Kyereh, Issahaku, Sulemana, Semenyo
Uruguay: Rochet, Varela, Gimenez, Coates, Olivera, De Arrascaeta, Bentancur, Valverde, Pellstri, Suarez, Nunez
Subs: Gonzalez, Cruz, Vecino, Canobbio, Cavani
Goals: De Arrascaeta (26′, 32′)
Yellow Cards: Ghana: Seidu, Sulemana – Uruguay: Cavani, Gimenez, Coates, Nunez, Suarez
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Daniel Siebert
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