After nearly two weeks of mostly beautiful, free-flowing football, the game's ugly side was on full display when Uruguay edged 10-man Italy 1-0 onTuesday to reach the second round of the World Cup.
After nearly two weeks of mostly beautiful, free-flowing football, the game’s ugly side was on full display when Uruguay edged 10-man Italy 1-0 onTuesday to reach the second round of the World Cup.
With a bite on the shoulder, a shin to the head and a boot to the knee, there wasn’t much to admire at the Arena das Dunas. Even the match’s lone goal was a product of brute force — it didn’t even come with a kick or a header.
Uruguay defender Diego Godin scored with his shoulder in the 81st minute of an “in or out” match to send his side through to the second round, but the victory was overshadowed by a biting incident involving the South American squad’s star forward Luis Suarez.
And with four-time champion Italy heading home after the group phase for a second time in four years, coach Cesare Prandelli and football federation president Giancarlo Abete both resigned moments after the match.
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“When you don’t score a goal in two matches and don’t create much, it’s clearly a failure,” Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon said, with the Azzurri having also been beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in their previous game.
This match was decided when Godin rose above a crowd of defenders to redirect a corner with his back to the goal.
Moments earlier, replays showed Suarez apparently bite the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini as the pair clashed in the Italian penalty area.
Suarez was already sanctioned with a heavy ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in the English Premier League in 2013 and FIFA can sanction players for biting with bans of up to two years.
Chiellini said Suarez should have been sent off and that a red card earlier for Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio should never have been given.
“The red for Marchisio and not sending off Suarez were ridiculous,” Chiellini said.
“It was absolutely clear. There’s even a mark,” Chiellini said of the bite.
It was one of the most appalling incidents in the World Cup since France’s Zinedine Zidane head butted Marco Materazzi of Italy in the 2006 final.
But the biting incident wasn’t all.
In the 59th, Marchisio was shown a straight red card for putting his boot into Egidio Arevalo’s knee.
And midway through the first half, Mario Balotelli picked up his second yellow card in two matches for a needless foul on Alvaro Pereira. Balotelli practically leapt over the midfielder, hitting the back of his opponent’s head with his left shin.
Pereira was already the victim of a head injury in Uruguay’s 2-1 win over England.
Balotelli was benched for the second period.
FIFA listed the temperature at a sizzling 33 C (91 F), and clouds gave way to sun about midway through the first half, providing no relief for the players.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez wanted to watch the biting incident again.
“If that happened,” he said. “The referee probably didn’t see it. For me, and for all the people in Uruguay, we had more important things.”
Suarez did not respond to questions from print reporters after the game, passing by them with a smile and a thumbs-up.
Costa Rica was the surprise winner of Group D with seven points following a 0-0 draw with England on Tuesday. Uruguay finished second with six, while Italy and England went home with three and one point, respectively.
Uruguay’s next opponent will be the winner of Group C, which is currently led by Colombia.
“(The referee) certainly didn’t give us a helping hand,” Buffon said. “But in the end you can’t always be recriminating and putting the blame on others.”
Uruguay had to win to go through while Italy needed only a draw and it was clear that the Azzurri were playing for that result when Prandelli replaced Balotelli with a defensive midfielder, Andrea Parolo, to start the second half.
It appeared the tactic could work when Buffon stuck his right arm out to deny an excellent effort from Suarez in the 66th.
Uruguay had argued for a penalty in the 51st when Edinson Cavani got his legs tangled with Leonardo Bonucci, but Mexican referee Marco Rodirguez motioned to play on.
The last time Italy failed to proceed from the group stages in two successive World Cups came between 1950 and 1966, when Italy was eliminated in the first round four successive times.
“I assume full responsibility,” Prandelli said. “(But) it’s absurd to be left with 10 men in a match like this. There were no ugly fouls worthy of being sent off. You can’t (ruin) a match like that. The referee ruined the match.”
Italy: Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Matteo Darmian, Marco Verratti (Thiago Motta, 75), Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Mattia De Sciglio, Mario Balotelli (Marco Parolo, 46), Ciro Immobile (Antonio Cassano, 71).
Uruguay: Fernando Muslera, Martin Caceres, Jose Maria Gimenez, Diego Godin, Alvaro Pereira (Christian Stuani, 63), Alvaro Gonzalez, Egidio Arevalo Rios, Nicolas Lodeiro (Maximiliano Pereira, 46), Cristian Rodriguez (Gaston Ramirez, 78), Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez.
Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf