Uruguay have snuck through to the knock-out stages of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, beating Italy 1-0 at the Estadio das Dunas in a match which was marred by another alleged biting incident involving striker Luis Suarez.
Uruguayan captain Diego Godin converted in the 81st minute to send Uruguay to a meeting with Colombia in the first round of sudden death on Sunday morning AEST, ending Italy’s hopes of progression.
Italian manager Cesare Prandelli opted for a 3-5-2 formations in an effort to both cover all defensive bases and allow as much strike power as possible, needing at least a draw to ensure qualification to the next round of the 2014 World Cup.
Despite an impressive first half spent largely in the Uruguayan half, all attacking raids seemed to lack a finishing touch; with strikers Mario Balotelli and Ciro Immobile unable to pierce Muslera’s net.
Facing a Uruguayan formation of 4-4-2 that proved effective against England late last week, they Italians were lucky not to concede an early goal when Suarez free kick called Gianluigi Buffon into action early, who just managed to punch the ball free.
Continuing to lay the pressure of their opponents, Italy came close when a smart pass from Andrea Pirlo found De Sciglio in space on the wing, who eventual cross was snubbed out by the Uruguayan defence.
Appearing well and truly in control, Italy were again lucky not to concede just minutes from half time, when Buffon pulled off an exceptional save to deny Suarez, before again being required to halt a follow-up strike from Nicolas Lodeiro.
With Balotelli replaced at the break for another midfield option in Marco Parolo, Italy appeared content to maintain possession and play for a scoreless draw; a play which was arguably justified when Claudio Marchisio was sent from the pitch following a careless challenge of Egidio Arevalo.
Finding themselves on the back heel from there on in, Italy continued to do their best to hold out the before defender Giorgio Chiellini went down in his own box after suffering what appeared to have been a bite to his shoulder from Suarez, who proceeded to throw himself on the ground in an effort to cover the situation.
No stranger to incidents involving both biting and controversy at the World Cup, Suarez was banned for seven games when found guilty of biting an opponent whilst playing for dutch club side Ajax, ruled out for 10 games last year for the same offence on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and missed Uruguay’s semi-final appearance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after purposely using his hands to stop a goal which would have seen Ghana progress in place of his nation.
Approaching the referee with obviously marks on his shoulder, Chiellini was furious when Suarez was allowed to continue in the match.
“It was ridiculous not to send Suarez off,” Chiellini said after the game.
“It is clear, clear-cut and then there was the obvious dive afterwards because he knew very well that he did something that he shouldn’t have done.”
Appearing to lose all focus following the incident, Italian hearts broke when a corner conceded resulted in Godin putting his team 1-0 up with a perfectly timed header in the 81st minute.
Italy pushed forward in an attempt to equalise, but were unable to secure a decisive goal to see them through to the knockout phase of the 2014 World Cup.
With plenty to be said and determined in relation to Suarez’s alleged bite on Chiellini, Uruguay are currently offered at generous odds of $3.50 at Ladbrokes.com.au to beat Colombia in their Round of 16 clash on Sunday morning, 6:00am AEST.