AL WAKRAH, Qatar ( Associated Press) — There was no happy ending for Luis Suarez in his last World Cup with Uruguay.
Despite coming away with a goal to beat Ghana 2–0, the Celeste were knocked out in the group stage.
South Korea’s 2-1 win over Portugal in the second match of Group F sank Uruguay. Hwang Hee-chan scored in stoppage time to give South Korea the ticket.
Hwang’s goal was announced on the video scoreboard of Al Janoub Stadium, to the grief of the benches and the hundreds of Uruguayan fans who had painted the stands pale blue.
Suarez was the greatest exponent of grief. Covering himself with a Uruguayan shirt, the striker cried bitterly after the final whistle.
“It is sadness and disappointment that we feel,” said the forward, who indicated before the tournament that the Qatar event was going to be his last World Cup.
“I was fortunate to be playing my fourth World Cup (in a row), and I thought of my four-year-old son, who left with an image of sadness,” he said. “It’s difficult, but it’s time to face the situation and encourage colleagues who follow.”
At 35, “Pistolero” is no longer the same hunter on the field who shone with Liverpool, Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid. But in the third game in Qatar, he started as a starter and was instrumental in both goals.
Giorgio de Arasqueta, one of the players dismissed by Diego Alonso at the start of the tournament, ignited the Uruguayans’ confusion with two goals just six minutes apart in the first half.
Aware of Hwang’s goal, Uruguay unsuccessfully circled Lawrence Ati Ziggy’s goal, knowing that a goal would ticket them to the next stage due to goal difference in favor.
Sebastien Coates had one last chance when he completed Edinson Cavani’s pass from the right outside the area in the final minutes of extra time.
Uruguay deserved only a win after starting with a 0–0 draw against South Korea and a 2–0 loss with Portugal. But she bids goodbye to Qatar as the third in her group.
“It makes you angry to reach this limit and react like today,” Suarez said. “We are self-critical that the first game was not up to par, but today is a day to reflect on the fact that we gave our best.”
Diego Alonso’s men opened the scoring after 26 minutes after one of his many first-half shots. Suárez, booed by African fans from the start, received the ball after a mistake in clearance by two defenders in the area and took a shot which, after a rebound from Ziggy, was volleyed away by Arrasqueta.
Six minutes later, the Flamengo striker finished a right-footed cross that sent frenzy among many Uruguayan fans.
Arrasquetas brace ended the scoring drought that had dogged the South Americans since the round of 16 in Russia, when Cavani scored a brace in a win against Portugal.
“We played like we had to play. We let go and were the qualifying team we wanted to be”, said the Uruguayan coach.
Ghana also missed a penalty in Friday’s clash, due to similarities with the controversial round of 16 in South Africa, in which Suárez deflected a ball with his hand into the Uruguayan area in the closing moments of extra time.
Black Stars captain, Andre Ayew, the only survivor of the tournament in his team, bet on 11 meters ready to avenge his country. But Sergio Rochet, who had scored the maximum penalty by bringing down Qudus in the area in a play to be upheld by video arbitration, blocked the Qatari Al-Sadd striker’s shot on the right.
In their fourth World Cup participation, Ghana finished last in the group with three points. Portugal rose to first place.
Suarez, Cavani, defenders Diego Godin and Martín Cáceres and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera are the old Sky defenders who were the heroes of that match and who are now preparing to make way for a new generation.
More than an hour after the final whistle and with quiet enthusiasm, the Uruguayans paraded through the press area on their way to their bus, many of them still visibly emotional.
The last to leave was Godin, who said goodbye to the tournament with tears in his eyes.