Uruguay and South Korea played out the fourth goalless draw of the 2022 World Cup as the South Americans got their campaign off to a stuttering start. Both sides played like the aim was just to avoid defeat in a match where creativity and real chances were few and far between. Diego Alonso’s side headed to the Middle East with expectations high with a squad packed full of talent, but if their opener was anything to go by, it could be an underwhelming campaign in Qatar.
The first-half saw few opportunities for either side with both teams making their styles of plays clear to see. Uruguay made themselves compact and looked to hit South Korea on the break, whilst being very tricky to break down. The South Americans, led in attack by Darwin Nunez and former Liverpool man Luis Suarez, failed to offer much of a threat, with the current Liverpool man often finding himself in deep areas helping the team in defence. This was an issue for Alonso’s men as it left them with just Suarez up top on his own. Subsequently, Uruguay had just three attempts.
Both teams had one fantastic chance to break the deadlock. After 35 minutes, a glorious chance fell the way of Hwang Ui-jo who managed to blaze his effort over the crossbar from just a few yards out. For Uruguay, their best opportunity came for Diego Godin whose header from a corner struck the post. The captain produced an incredible leap and a wicked header that rattled the frame of the Korean post.
The second half played out in the exact same fashion with both teams missing that real desire and quality to go out and take all three points. It again came down to just one major opportunity each, both of which came in the 89th minute. Federico Valverde unleashed a rocket from 25 yards out which had Kim Seung-gyu beat but not the crossbar. Moments later, a lackadaisical moment from Uruguay’s keeper, Sergio Rochet, gifted Heung-min Son a chance to win it, but the Spurs forward could only drag his effort wide.
Depending on Portugal vs Ghana, both teams could now be fighting it out for the second-place spot behind the European giants, which leaves real question marks as to why Uruguay opted for such a defensive-minded approach. Uruguay now find themselves having to avoid defeat against Portugal and try to beat Ghana by as many goals as possible to avoid a group-stage exit.
Uruguay Player Ratings
GK: Sergio Rochet (7)
RB: Martín Cáceres (7)
CB: Diego Godín (8)
Very impressive performance in defence for the former Atletico Madrid man. Looked dangerous from concerns, producing Uruguay’s best chance, and looked rock solid at the back.
CB: José Giménez (7.5)
LB: Mathías Olivera (7.5)
CM: Federico Valverde (8)
Demonstrated why he is seen as one of the best midfielders in the world right now. He was a real presence in the midfield for the South Americans.
CM: Rodrigo Bentancur (8)
The Tottenham man was one of the only players on the pitch to show much invention and played in the same brilliant fashion that he has done for his club side this season.
CM: Matías Vecino (7)
RW: Facundo Pellistri (6)
ST: Luis Suarez (5)
Probably one of the reasons why Uruguay showed very little threat. He was a passenger for most of the game and very immobile at times.
LW: Darwin Núñez (6.5)
A frustrating afternoon for the Liverpool man who was clearly asked to do a job for the team and played in a very deep role. Had some promising moments but also missed one or two good chances.
South Korea Player Ratings
GK: Kim Seung-gyu (7)
RB: Kim Moon-hwan (6)
CB: Kim Young-gwon (7)
CB: Kim Min-jae (7)
Very solid in defence and showed why he is impressing at Napoli this season.
LB: Kim Jin-su (6)
CDM: Jung Woo-Young (7)
CDM: Hwang In-beom (7)
CAM: Lee Jae-sung
RW: Na Sang-ho (7)
LW: Son Heung-min (6)
It was a tough afternoon for Son who failed to really get involved in the game.
ST: Hwang Ui-jo (5.5)