It was a topsy turvy group in the end. While England's fate was sealed early, Italy's dramatic exit came late in the final round. Ahmad Khan takes a look at the key talking points...
Third bite’s the charm for Suarez
By this time you would have probably seen the picture of Giorgio Chiellini baring his shoulder to show referee Marco Rodriguez the bite marks made by Luis Suarez. The altercation occurred in the second half of the match, minutes before Uruguay scored the winning goal, as television replays showed Suarez chomping on the Juventus defender’s shoulder inside the Italian penalty box.
The incident has unsurprisingly grabbed the headlines and seems to have taken the gloss away from Uruguay’s qualification into the knockout phase, with the scrutiny on the Liverpool man’s conduct being called into action yet again.
This is not the first, neither is it the second, but an astonishing THIRD time Suarez has been caught biting an opponent. The 26-year-old was banned for seven games the first time he bit Ottman Bakkal when he played for Ajax in 2010, while he was hit with a 10-game suspension for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic just last year.
But seriously though, how strong is that man’s teeth?!
Marchisio red card
The biting incident was not the only controversial confrontation during the game. Claudio Marchisio’s red card on the hour mark, the first time in his entire career that he has been sent off, raised a few eyebrows as well.
It looked like Marchisio was trying to put his leg over the ball and accidentally stamped on Egidio Arevalo, but referee Marco Rodriguez took a different view to it and prematurely ended the Juventus midfielder’s evening and eventually, Italy’s world cup campaign too.
Rodriguez, who has a no-nonsense reputation as an official, had no doubts about the decision at all as the sending off turned the game on its head, allowing Uruguay to ruthlessly make the most of their extra man.
Rest assured Rodriguez will not have that many friends in Italy with the likelihood of his vilification by the Italian media.
Prandelli’s resignation and Italy’s early exit…again
Four years ago, then-defending world champions Italy were eliminated in the group stages of the 2010 World Cup without even registering a win as they drew against Paraguay and New Zealand before losing their final game to Slovakia.
The message from the Italy camp prior to the start of the tournament this year then was very clear and simple - No repeats of the 2010 World Cup debacle.
The message came through loud and clear in the beginning as they started the 2014 tournament in emphatic fashion by beating England 2-1. But that was about as good as it got as their impotency in front of goal crudely exploited, losing 1-0 to both Costa Rica and Uruguay.
The Azzurri are losing their reputation as big tournament performers, with two consecutive disastrous world cup campaigns so far. Not even the magic of Andrea Pirlo could save them from this embarrassment, while Cesare Prandelli has submitted his “irrevocable” resignation as Italy coach, despite being asked to reconsider his decision.
Head of God-in
What a season Diego Godin is having.
The Uruguay captain was the hero of the evening as his goal 10 minutes from time booked his side a place in the knockout stages of the World Cup at Italy’s expense.
The Atletico Madrid defender must be used to match-winning contributions like these by now, as his goal against Barcelona at the Nou Camp in the final match of the La Liga season pegged the Catalan side back and won his side the league title.
The 28-year-old was also the goal scorer in his side’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid, which almost turned out to be the match winner, until victory was stolen from them right at the death.
And now, he has brought over his knack of scoring vital goals for his club to his country too, as Uruguay became one of the select few teams to have lost the first game of the tournament and yet still qualify to the Round of 16.
Fancy him to provide more match-winning contributions?
World Cup’s penchant for late drama
Mexico’s late surge against Croatia to send them packing, Portugal’s equaliser right at the death against USA, Messi’s moment of brilliance against Iran, Luis Suarez’s late winner for Uruguay to condemn England to an early exit. Switzerland’s winning goal in added time against Ecuador…you get the idea.
How many times have we seen late drama in the World Cup so far?
Uruguay followed the spirit and blueprint of the tournament as they too used a late Diego Godin goal to leapfrog Italy and eliminate them from the competition.
Lesson learnt, stay and watch the games till the very end. You have been warned.
P.S. Oh and in case anyone is interested; Costa Rica and England drew 0-0 in a dead rubber match as the Central American side finished top of the group while the Three Lions finish last.
Ahmad Khan is currently a Presenter/Producer for Red Card Sports Radio. He idolizes John Dykes and hopes to be the Singaporean equivalent of the renowned football presenter one day. He also has the potty idea that football makes the world go round and is convinced the beautiful game forges even greater bonds than the United Nations to bring people together.