Photo: Uruguay vs Italy
Diego Godin’s goal in the last 10 minutes of regulation gave Uruguay a 1-0 victory over Italy here Tuesday to guarantee the South American team a berth in the knockout stage and shatter the Azzurri’s dream of a fifth World Cup title.
A major presence throughout the match, Godin headed in a corner kick in the 81st minute against an Italian squad that played the last half hour with only 10 men after Claudio Marchisio was ejected on a straight red card for a foul against Egidio Arevalo Rios.
Italy would have advanced with a tie, but the Uruguayans needed to win.
The first 30 minutes featured a exposition of ball control by the Italians under the direction of veteran playmaker Andrea Pirlo, who also produced the game’s first scoring chance.
Despite their need for a goal, Uruguay took a cautious approach, waiting for a chance to counterattack.
The always dangerous Luis Suarez was swarmed by two and sometimes three Italian defenders every time he entered the offensive zone.
Even so, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was forced to make big first-half stops against Suarez and Nicolas Lodeiro.
Godin, meanwhile, did a good job of containing Italy’s top scorer of the tourney, Mario Balotelli, who was lucky not to be thrown out after stopping the ball with his hand in the 41st minute when he already had one yellow card.
Anxious to avoid playing with 10 men, Italian coach Cesare Prandelli substituted Marco Parolo for Balotelli in the second half, only to end up losing Marchisio in the 58th minute.
Buffon made a tremendous save on a low shot from Suarez, but couldn’t stop Godin’s header.
Uruguay withstood the Italians’ all-out push to get the equalizer to secure the second knockout-stage berth from Group D, behind surprising Costa Rica, who beat both Italy and the Uruguayans on the way to winning the group.