RIO DE JANEIRO — Luis Suarez exits the World Cup with one of the longest bans in tournament history, and his reputation once again in tatters.
The Uruguay forward, widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, was banned by FIFA from all competition for four months Thursday for biting an Italian opponent in an incident that marred the team’s victory and progression to the second round.
It’s the third time he’s served a suspension for biting an opponent — after similar incidents at both Ajax in the Dutch league and Liverpool in England — and the second straight World Cup where Suarez exits in disgrace.
The four-month ban will sideline Suarez for the first two months of Liverpool’s season. He was also suspended for Uruguay’s next nine matches, which extends beyond the four months and rules him out of next year’s Copa America, where his team is the defending champion. The Uruguayan football federation said it would appeal.
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Aside from Diego Maradona’s 15-month suspension for a failed drug test at the 1994 tournament, it’s the longest ban handed out to a player at the World Cup. FIFA also fined Suarez 100,000 Swiss francs ($112,000).
Suarez bit the left shoulder of defender Giorgio Chiellini on Tuesday in Natal during Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy, an incident that went unpunished by the referee but was witnessed by fans around the world on TV. Given Suarez’s previous biting incidents, the images went viral immediately.
“Such behavior cannot be tolerated on any football pitch and in particular not at a FIFA World Cup, when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field,” Claudio Sulser, chairman of the FIFA disciplinary committee, said in a statement.
The Uruguayan federation was preparing an urgent appeal, as Suarez headed home. FIFA even barred him from staying with teammates ahead of their round-of-16 game against Colombia on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.
Portugal 2, Ghana 1
In Brasilia, Cristiano Ronaldo finally made his mark at the World Cup — but it came too late to spare Portugal an early exit from Brazil.
The world player of the year broke his scoring drought at the tournament with an 80th-minute winner against Ghana.
That win left the Portuguese level on four points with the United States in Group G but with an inferior goal difference to the second-place Americans. Ghana also was eliminated, finishing at the bottom of the group.
Ghana captain Asamaoh Gyan’s 57th-minute header canceled out an own goal scored by teammate John Boye in the 31st, and at that stage it was the African side that was closer to qualifying.
Two of Ghana’s star players, Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng, were thrown off the squad just hours before the game for disciplinary reasons.
Algeria 1, Russia 1
In Curitiba, Algeria qualified for the knockout stages for the first time, with Islam Slimani heading in an equalizer in the 60th minute to give his team enough points to reach the second round.
Algeria placed second in Group H behind Belgium with four points, meaning it will meet Germany in the Round of 16.
Russia, needing a win to advance, went on the attack from the start and dominated the first half with its intricate and swift passing movements through midfield. The Russians took the lead in the sixth minute when Alexander Kokorin powerfully headed in a left-foot cross from Dmitry Kombarov.
Belgium 1, South Korea 0
In São Paulo, Belgium, reduced to 10 men for more than half the match, still edged South Korea to finish on top of Group H and eliminate the last Asian team from the World Cup.
With a late goal yet again, Belgium made the difference in the 78th minute when defender Jan Vertonghen followed up a shot from teenage striker Divock Origi and tapped in the rebound.
“We knew all games were going to be tough,” said Belgium coach Marc Wilmots. “But even with 10 men, we still pushed forward. These guys are really hungry.”
After three narrow victories and precious little beautiful play, Belgium will now play the United States in Salvador on Tuesday.
• Sergio Aguero will miss Argentina’s second-round match against Switzerland on Tuesday because of a muscle injury in his left thigh.