Uruguay have progressed to the last 16 of the World Cup after they defeated ten man Italy 1-0 in a controversial clash at Estadio Das Dunas.
With Claudio Marchissio already dismissed, Uruguay’s star striker Luis Suarez appeared to bite Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder, which was missed by the referee, and then captain Diego Godin headed in the winner for Los Charruas with nine minutes to go.
Uruguay, who needed to win in order to advance to the knockout stages due to their inferior goal difference, were unchanged from the 2-1 victory over England last Thursday while Italy coach Cesare Prandelli made four changes from the defeat last time out to Costa Rica with Mattia De Sciglio, Leonardo Bonucci, Marco Veratti and Ciro Immobile all starting.
There was a tense, tentative opening to the game with Andrea Pirlo’s long distance free-kick the only shot on target in the first half an hour.
Suarez, fresh from his double against England, soon tested Gianluigi Buffon after clever interplay with Edinson Cavani on the edge of the box and the Italian captain was quick to deny Nicolas Lodeiro on the follow up.
Cristian Rodriguez went close on the hour mark but he fired wide from an acute angle after latching onto Suarez’s delicate through ball.
Italy were then reduced to ten men as Claudio Marchisio was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Egidio Arevalo after losing possession.
Uruguay boss Oscar Tabarez responded immediately by bringing on striker Cristian Stuani for defender Alvaro Pereira as they went for the jugular and it was Buffon who denied them again as he produced a stunning stop to push Suarez’s powerful effort behind.
The main talking point of the game came in the 80th minute when Suarez and Chiellini collided in the penalty area with replays suggesting that the Liverpool striker may have bitten the defender in the collision.
Only seconds after the controversy, Uruguay made the one-man advantage count as Godin rose highest from Gaston Ramirez’s corner to power his header beyond the despairing Buffon.
The Azzurri struggled to create anything of note in the dying stages and it will be South Americans who will take on the winners of Group C in the Maracana stadium on Saturday with Suarez almost certain to be suspended.
Italy: Gianluigi Buffon; Mattia De Sciglio, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Matteo Darmian; Andrea Pirlo, Marco Veratti (Thiago Motta 75), Claudio Marchisio; Mario Balotelli (Marco Parolo 46), Ciro Immobile (Antonio Cassano 71).
Booked: Balotelli (22), De Sciglio (77)
Sent off: Marchisio (59)
Uruguay: Fernando Muslera; Alvaro Pereira (Cristian Stuani 63), Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez, Martin Caceres; Egidio Arevalo, Alvaro Gonzalez, Cristian Rodriguez (Gaston Ramirez 78), Nicolas Lodeiro (Maxi Pereira 46); Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez.
Booked: Arevalo (46), Muslera (90)
Referee: Marco Rodriguez (Mexico)
Attendance: 39, 706
Extratime Man of the Match: Diego Godin (Uruguay)