Suarez the hero as Uruguay progress past South Korea

Luis Suarez of Uruguay celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mate Edinson Cavani during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Uruguay and South Korea at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on June 26, 2010 in Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth, South Africa.Uruguay 2-1 South Korea

Uruguay booked the first spot in the quarter finals of the World Cup this afternoon with a 2-1 win over South Korea. After a superb group stage, Diego Forlan was unusally subdued but step up Luis Suarez of Ajax who snatched two goals against the spritely Koreans.

The teams and formations

Both teams made just one change, Diego Godin replaced Mauricio Victorino at the back for Uruguay while Kim Jae-Sung replaced Yeom Ki-Hun in the Korean midfield.

Uruguay continued with the impressive three-man attack of Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Forlan played more pushed up then before, and unlike the games in the group stage had little to do in the game and didn’t run it as much as he used to. Instead, step up Suarez and Cavani who both were much more involed then previous matches. Cavani ran the right hand flank all day, popping up everywhere in a very dynamic role. The two wide men swapped from time-to-time, which finally led to Uruguay’s opening goal from Suarez. Korea found it difficult early on and it looked like it was going to be another comfortable win for Uruguay, who sat back and were slow and methodical in possession, especially after going 1-0 up. Korea were sloppy in possession, often choosing to boot it forward in the hope the lonely Park Chu-Yong could get onto it, but it proved futile and any attempts for the Koreans to get a foothold on the ball were quickly cleaned up by the Uruguaian midfield. Korea’s midfield was quite deep, leaving the front man isolated. Star player Park Ji-Sung struggled to get into the game, while most of their attacks came from left back Lee Young-Pyo.

Uruguay like to sit back too quickly

One thing that was noticable over the three group stage games were Uruguay are too happy to sit back after taking the lead. The attackers were much more conservative, while the midfield three behind the attacking trident were reserved and looked to hold back.

Korea managed to grow into the game with increased possession and more efficient passing in the second half, and were rewarded with the equaliser. The full backs, Young-Pyo and Cha Du-Ri provided excellent widht from either flank, while the midfield pushed higher up. Park Ji-Sung moved into a more central role where he could influence play a lot more.

The decision to sit back and absorb so much pressure was key to Korea gaining a hold on the match, but it’s also important to note the changes by the Korean manager. The isolated forward came into the came a lot more in the second half, and with more attacking options around him including forward substitute Lee Dong-Gook, Korea were much improved.

Uruguay start attacking again

The next turning point in the came after the goal. When Uruguay opened the scoring in the first half, they simply stopped playing. When Korea equalised in the second half, they too stopped playing. Uruguay started to attack again, something they should’ve done all game despite being happy to hold on to a 1-0 lead. Forlan was high up the pitch, but Cavani and Suarez continued to pose a threat from either side. Suarez got on the scoresheet again, this time the ball fell to him on the left hand side of the box from a corner, and he curled the ball beautifully with his right foot past Jung in the Korean goal.

Uruguay should’ve had a penalty to double their lead, but soon after the second goal they sat back again and decided to run out the single goal lead like before, taking off Luis Suarez for a fourth midfielder. Chances still fell to Korea, but they failed to finish their opportunities.

What next?

Uruguay await either Ghana or the USA in the quarter-final, which is on as we speak. In fact, Ghana are just after going 1-0 up.

Uruguay should be favourites, no matter who they face, as in attack they have much more to offer – especially if Forlan becomes involed more in the next game.

South Korea go out, rather disappointingly for them as they had high hopes of another long run in the competition, like in 2002. They can go out with their heads held high, as they were one of the more brighter, adventurous sides on show in South Africa.

Read our preview of Day 2 of the Last 16, including Germany v England and Argentina v Mexico

The Author

Kevin Coleman

Founder and co-editor of Back Page Football and current host of our 'Three At The Back' weekly podcast.

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