Ghana and Uruguay were eliminated from the 2022 FIFA World Cup despite the latter's 2-0 win at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, on Friday (December 2).
Although the South American giants emerged victorious on the night, it wasn't enough, as South Korea's 2-1 defeat of Portugal saw the Asian side leapfrog Uruguay to second spot on goals scored.
The opening few minutes of the Ghana-Uruguay game were a cagey affair, as both teams looked to attack without opening up gaps at the back. The first hint of an attack came in the 12th minute when Darwin Nunez tried to bulldoze his way to goal before Mohammed Salisu and Alidu Seidu dispossessed him.
At the other end, goalkeeper Sergio Rochet spilled Jordan Ayew's shot into Mohammed Kudus' path, who was brought down by the 'keeper as he tried to get to the rebound. While the referee turned down calls for a penalty due to an offside, VAR overturned the decision and awarded Ghana a penalty. Rochet then did well to save Ayew's effort to keep the game goalless.
The save proved decisive, as the South Americans took the lead a few minutes later. Darwin Nunez's cross evaded Salisu, and Seidu and found Luis Suarez, whose shot was parried by Lawrence Ati-Zigi. An unmarked Giorgian de Arrascaeta nodded in from inches out. Uruguay doubled their lead soon after when Suarez's flicked pass was volleyed home in style by the 28-year-old De Arrascaeta.
With a comfortable lead and one foot in the knockouts, Uruguay did well to keep Ghana at bay for the rest of the contest as they looked to coast to the full time whistle. With South Korea level with Portugal, Uruguay were on their way to clinching second place in the group.
However, La Celeste's relaxed mood drastically changed with five minutes left when news of South Korea taking the lead against Portugal came in. With time running out to find another gaol, Uruguay threw the kitchen sink at Ghana but failed to find an elusive third.
With both Ghana and South Korea locked on four points apiece and the same goal difference, the latter's four goals scored to Uruguay's two made the difference. Ghana (3), meanwhile, also crashed out, as they needed to avoid defeat against Uruguay.
On that note, here are five hits and flops from the Uruguay-Ghana game:
#1 Hit - Sergio Rochet | Uruguay
Sergio Rochet gave away a penalty that could have changed the complexion of the game. He, however, redeemed himself with a well-timed dive to save Andre Ayew's effort.
Rochet also produced a couple of good saves, notably denying Kudus and Sulemana late on, to keep his team's hopes of qualifying for the knockouts alive, which eventually weren't to be.
#2 Flop - Baba Rahman | Ghana
Baba Rahman offered very little against Uruguay. He was poor defensively and offered very little in attack.
His passing was also uninspiring, notably in the final stages when Ghana looked to hit on the counter for a consolation strike.
#3 Hit - Giorgian de Arrascaeta | Uruguay
Hyped to be the breakout star at the last edition of the World Cup, Giorgian de Arrascaeta scored two goals against Ghana to remind of his prowess.
He reacted well to score his first goal before getting his second in style with a volley.
#4 Flop - Andre Ayew | Ghana
Andre Ayew had an extremely quiet time on the pitch till Ghana won a penalty midway through the first half.
He stepped up to take it and in trying to second-guess the goalkeeper with his slow, stuttering run-up, could find neither the placement nor the power to find the back of the net.
Ayew didn't have the chance to atone for his miss, as he saw was substituted at half-time.
#5 Hit - Sebastian Coates | Uruguay
Sebastian Coates put in a solid performance against Ghana, giving little time and space for the attackers to exploit.
He was always in the right place at the right time and cleared his lines with no fuss. He was also calm in possession and precise with his passes as Uruguay went in search of a third goal that would have sealed their spot in the Round of 16.
South Korea go on to face Group G winners, likely to be Brazil, in the Round of 16, leaving Uruguay wondering what might have been.