An apparent biting attack by serial offender Luis Suarez on Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini overshadowed Uruguay’s 1-0 win, a win that eliminated Italy on Tuesday afternoon, and sent La Celeste to the Round of 16.
After spending the better part of the past year rehabilitating a reputation destroyed by a similar biting incident, along with a racial abuse case, Suarez has (allegedly) inexplicably done it again.
Suarez led the English Premier League in goals with 31 this season, nine more than runner up Daniel Sturridge, and with each goal seemed to put a little bit of distance between his past actions and his current accomplishments.
After sitting out Uruguay’s opening 3-1 loss to Costa Rica, Suarez scored both goals in his country’s 2-1 win over England, just one month after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.
This latest incident occurred in the 80th minute of a game that would eliminate one team, while sending the other into the knockout rounds. Suarez and Uruguay needed to win the match, while a draw would see the Italian’s through.
Perhaps it was the pressure, but both teams were cautious as a dull match unfolded. Only Italy’s eccentric forward Mario Balotelli kept things interesting, and not for soccer reasons. Balotelli picked up a yellow card for a reckless tackle in the 22nd minute, and his general demeanor so concerned coach Cesare Prandelli, who resigned after the loss, that he replaced the forward at halftime.
The pace picked up a little in the second half, but the big break came in the 59th minute when Italian midfielder Claudio Marchisio was handed a straight red card for a high tackle. The call looked harsh, but Italy would have to play with 10 men the rest of the way.
Uruguay was not having a lot of luck breaking down the Italian defense when Suarez struck. Neither the referee nor his assistants clearly saw what happened when Suarez and Chiellini tangled in front of the Italian goal with 10 minutes left to play. But television replays clearly showed Suarez leaning into the big Italian center back with what at first looked like some type of headbutt.
Subsequent replays and still photos appeared to confirm that Chiellini had indeed become biting victim number three for the talented, but troubled Suarez.
Chiellini jumped up and pulling down his jersey, appealed to the ref to take a closer look. In a, it would be funny if weren’t so disgusting sort of a way, one of Suarez’s teammates pulled Chiellini’s shirt back up in an attempt to hide the evidence.
Meanwhile, Uruguay had been awarded a corner kick. Diego Godin who scored in the Champions League Final, and scored the goal that secured the La Liga title for Atletico Madrid, added to his already brilliant c.v., when he headed Uruguay into the lead in the 81st minute.
That would be all of the scoring, with 10 man Italy unable to find the equalizer needed to advance.
Fifa has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Uruguay striker Luis Suárez.
“Fifa can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the player Luis Suárez of Uruguay,” the body said in a statement. If found guilty he could face a lengthy ban.
With the spotlight firmly trained on Suarez for all the wrong reasons, Costa Rica’s achievement in winning the so-called “Group of Champions” may have been somewhat overlooked
Although Costa Rica came to Brazil as rank outsiders in Group B, Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with England improbably secured the division for the underdogs.
England will probably be happy to have the Suarez distraction, but the team are unlikely to find much shelter when they return home to what is likely to be a turbulent media storm.
Group D played off in the late games, with Colombia, facing Japan, the only team in the group secure of a spot in the knockout rounds as the matches got underway.
Coming in with three points, Ivory Coast were in the drivers seat for the second position when they kicked off against Greece. With one point Greece were level with Japan, although Japan had a superior goal difference to the Greeks at -1 to -3.
But Greece would upset the form book, stunning the Ivory Coast when Giorgios Samaras earned and converted a 91st minute penalty to break a 1-1 deadlock and advance to the knockout rounds at the expense of the Elephants.
Greece had gone ahead in the 42nd minute with their first goal of the World Cup through substitute Andre Samaris. The goal scorer was one of two changes forced on Greek manager Fernando Santos before 24 minutes had been played due to first half injuries. Samaris came on for Panagiotis Kone after 12 minutes, and Greek netminder Orestis Karnezis had to make way for Panagiotis Gilkos after he picked up a knock and had to leave 12 minutes later.
The second half began with Greece trying to hold down a lead that would see them advance while The Elephants looked for a comeback. The Ivory Coast finally broke through the stubborn Greek defense in the 71st minute when substitute Wilfried Bony converted after some excellent work from Gervinho.
Now with their World Cup hopes in the balance the offensively challenged Greeks had to go out of character and chase a late goal. The Ivory Coast made an error common to teams trying to close out a game when they fell back into a defensive shell.
With the Ivorians ceding most of the possession Greece were able to press forward, finally getting their break when Samaras was taken down by Giovanni Sios. Samaras finished coolly, setting up a Round of 16 game versus Costa Rica Saturday at 4:00 ET, and sending the Ivory Coast home.
Colombia set aside Japan’s challenge behind dynamic duo Jackson Martinez and James Rodriguez. After the first half ended all square at 1-1, James Rodriquez was sprung from the bench, replacing Juan Cuadrado who had scored Colombia’s first goal from a penalty.
Rodriguez won FIFA Man of the Match in each of Colombia’s two previous games, both wins. Now he and Martinez would combine for three second half goals to ensure a perfect group stage record for Colombia.
Martinez scored the first two on set ups from Rodriguez, with Martinez returning the favor on JRods 89th minute goal.
Next up for Colombia is Uruguay, who would seem certain to be without the top player Luis Suarez when they face James Rodriguez and company on June 28th at 4:00.