Uruguay 0-0 South Korea: 5 hits and flops ft. Luis Suarez, Son Heung-min | 2022 FIFA World Cup

Anirudh
Uruguay v Korea Republic: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Luis Suarez (L) controls the ball against Moonhwan Kim at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar.

Uruguay and South Korea kickstarted their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign with a goalless draw at the Education City Stadium in Qatar on Thursday. Though the South Americans rattled the post twice, both sides failed to register a shot on target and go home with one point each from the contest.

It was an end-to-end start to the match, with Kim Min-jae sending Na Sang-ho free down the right wing, forcing Jose Maria Gimenez to intercept and concede a corner. From the set piece, Darwin Nunez headed the ball clear, starting a counter-attack through Federico Valverde that the South Koreans just about managed to defend.

The Asian side began taking control of the midfield in the early stages, with Hwang In-beom particularly threatening to find gaps in the Uruguayan defense before Matias Vecino hacked him down to disrupt the rhythm.

The Taegeuk Warriors took a leaf out of Japan's performance against Germany on Wednesday and pressed relentlessly, regaining lost possession quickly and continuously switching play to stretch Uruguay across the pitch.

Son Heung-min came to life in the 26th minute when evaded Mathias Olivera's attention, cut in, and looked to curl the ball into the far post before Diego Godin headed clear.

Less than 10 minutes later, Korea broke through the resolute Uruguayan defense when In-beom's pass over the top found Kim Moon-hwan, whose perfectly weighted cross to Hwang Ui-jo sailed inches over the striker's head.

Minutes before the break, the South Americans countered through Federico Valverde and Facundo Pellistri, but the cross to Luis Suarez was intercepted by Kim Young-gwon. From the resulting corner, Godin saw his header bounce off the base of the far post.

The second half followed the same script as the first, with both teams doing their best to counter each other without really threatening the goalkeepers. The first proper attack after the break came through Darwin Nunez, who ran down the left wing, cut past Min-jae, and saw his shot from a tight angle blocked by Young-gwon, before 'keeper Kim Seung Gyu collected the ball at full stretch.

As the game wore on, both sides made a host of changes in search of the elusive breakthrough, which almost came in the final minutes of the match when Valverde's rasping strike from 30 yards out clattered the near post and bounced away to safety.

On that note, here are five hits and flops from the Group H draw between Uruguay and South Korea:


#1. Hit - Jose Gimenez | Uruguay

Jose Gimenez was instrumental in the South Americans keeping a clean sheet against South Korea.
Jose Gimenez was instrumental in the South Americans keeping a clean sheet against South Korea.

Jose Gimenez formed a rock-solid partnership with veteran Diego Godin in the heart of the Uruguayan defense. The Atletico Madrid defender dealt well with South Korean crosses and even set up a few chances with inch-perfect long balls.


#2. Flop - Martin Caceres | Uruguay

Martin Caceres controls the ball under pressure from Jaesung Lee.
Martin Caceres controls the ball under pressure from Jaesung Lee.

While Martin Caceres likes to bomb forward from right-back to help his team in attack, he spent most of the game on the back foot as Son Heung-min ran rings around him. The frustrated 35-year-old eventually picked up a booking for a late challenge on the Korean.


#3. Hit - Son Heung-min | South Korea

Son Heung-min was South Korea's best player against the Uruguayans.
Son Heung-min was South Korea's best player against the Uruguayans.

Son Heung-min is South Korea's best player and he put in a performance that showed he was worthy of the title. He troubled Martin Caceres throughout the match, pinned the right-back deep inside his half and frustrated the veteran enough to force him to make a silly challenge and pick up a yellow card.


#4. Flop - Luis Suarez | Uruguay

Luis Suarez failed to trouble South Korean defenders.
Luis Suarez failed to trouble South Korean defenders.

Luiz Suarez registered a 50% pass accuracy, won 33% of his aerial duels, lost possession nine times, completed just seven passes, took no shots and played zero key passes. He struggled to get into the contest and was replaced by Edinson Cavani just past the hour mark.


#5. Hit - Federico Valverde | Uruguay

Federico Valverde passes the ball under pressure from Wooyoung Jung.
Federico Valverde passes the ball under pressure from Wooyoung Jung.

Federico Valverde has grown to become one of the most versatile players in the game now. With Real Madrid, he has played and starred as a defensive midfielder, attacking midfielder, full-back, wing-back, and even as a winger. Against South Korea, he started the match in midfield and slowly pushed forward, taking a role behind the striker while tracking back every time his team was out of possession.

Made crucial tackles to break up play and nearly got an unlikely goal in the dying stages of the match. A truly masterful performance from the 24-year-old.

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Edited by S Chowdhury
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