After a somewhat subdued opening round, the first two games of the knockout stages did not disappoint. With sheets of rain sweeping across Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, Uruguay and South Korea both played with a sense of urgency… which was a treat for both partisans and neutrals alike.
Luis Suarez was magnificent, scoring both of Uruguay’s tallies. The first one came when Diego Forlan raced to catch a loose ball at the touchline, turning and sending a cross through the box. The Korean keeper missed it and Suarez was waiting. 1-0 Uruguay.
A miscommunication between Fernando Muslera and captain Diego Lugano resulted in a collision, and a gift for Bolton’s Lee Chung-Yong. 1-1. By the way, there were four Diegos on the pitch during this game. Weird.
The winner came on what might be the goal of the tournament. The ball was headed away from the pack in front of the net, after a Forlan corner. Suarez gets the ball, swings past his man at the edge and sends in a bendy ball that hits the post, deflecting into the net. Awesome, as was his celebration. Uruguay’s win marks the first time since 1970 that a South American team other than Brazil or Argentina has advanced to the quarterfinals.
Boateng celebrates after opening the scoring.
Ghana-U.S.A. was a repeat of a group match in 2006… and it produced the same result. Kevin-Prince Boateng put the Black Stars on the board after only five minutes — Ghana’s first goal from open play in this tournament. The U.S. coughed up the ball at the centre spot, and Boateng left-footed it past two defenders and the keeper.
The U.S. got back on the board on a penalty, after Clint Dempsey was brought down in the box. The game remained tied after 90 minutes, and so began the tournament’s first taste of extra-time. Three minutes in, Asamoah Gyan scored his third of this World Cup — and it proved to be the winner. Ghana becomes only the third African team to reach the quarters, after Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002. Landon Donovan says his team was naive, by not putting Ghana away. For the second time in a row, the Black Stars knock out the Stars and Stripes.
Uruguay and Ghana play next Friday.