A 2-0 win over Ghana was not enough for two-time winners Uruguay to make it to the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup from Group H at the Janoub Stadium in Al Wakra on Friday. Instead, it was the Asian side South Korea which made it to the next stage with a stunning 2-1 win over Portugal and finished as runners-up in the group behind leaders Portugal.
The South Americans, winners of the inaugural edition of the tournament in 1930 and again winners twenty years later, had their twin goals through Giorgiande Arrascaeta. Arrascaeta scored two goals within a span of six minutes to put them in the lead.
The first one was a close-range header, the second a sublime volley. The Flamengo Rio de Janeiro striker Arrascaeta fired a brace (26th and 32nd minutes) from previously winless and goalless Uruguay to an ultimately meaningless victory.
Ghana, on the other hand, missed the great opportunity to make World Cup history as the third African team after Morocco and Senegal by reaching the Round of 16. A missed penalty by Ghana in the 21st minute of the first half kept Uruguay in the game. Andr Ayew, son of Ghanaian soccer legend Abdi Pel missed a penalty conceded by Uruguay goalkeeper Sergio Rochet against Mohammed Kudus.
Ayew was visibly unsettled by the long delay before the penalty -- Rochet dived into the corner quickly enough and saved. The Africans were stunned and quickly conceded two goals. Uruguay, meanwhile, showed their best tournament performance so far and acted much more passionately than in the last two games against South Korea (0-0) and Portugal (0-2).
The South Koreans scripted the second big shock into two days by Asian teams with Japan having defeated Spain on Wednesday to make it to the next round as group leaders. The Koreans, however, finished second and it was only the third time they are making it to the Round of 16 in eleven World Cup appearances.
Portugal go through to the last 16 as Group H winners and will meet Serbia, Switzerland, or Cameroon. South Korea's reward for finishing second is an appointment with Brazil. The 15 teams have already qualified for the knockout stage with South Korea joining Japan, Spain, Morocco, Croatia, Argentina, Poland, Australia, Portugal, Brazil, England, France, the Netherlands, Senegal and USA, the last and final team will be decided in Friday's group matches with Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon vying for one spot from Group G.