Uruguayans celebrate hands of Suarez

MONTEVIDEO - Uruguay's media celebrated "the hands of Luis Suarez" on Saturday after the striker's handball in the World Cup quarter-final against Ghana led to a penalty shootout in which 'La Celeste' triumphed.

Most newspapers pondered Suarez's handball on the goalline that denied the Africans a last-gasp extra-time goal that would have earned them a place in the last four.

Instead, twice world champions Uruguay won the shootout 4-2, after the match finished 1-1 at the end of the extra period, to reach the last four for the first time in 40 years.

Tens of thousands of flag-waving Uruguayans took to the streets of Montevideo after Friday's game and the mood in the media was also generally celebratory with leading newspaper El Pais declaring: "Long Live the hands of Luis Suarez."

But it added: "Suarez put his name in the history books, in the least expected way; not with a great game... or spectacular goal... it was with a foul that deserved a red card.

"You couldn't ask for more drama ... but the 'Hand of God' forced Suarez off," said the daily La Republica, comparing him to Diego Maradona and his famous 1986 World Cup handball.

Suarez was sent off for handling the ball and will miss the semi-final against Netherlands in Cape Town on Tuesday.

"So many miracles just weren't possible. And they happened," said newspaper Ultimas Noticias, dedicating many pages to the game and the celebrations. Other newspapers carried headlines like 'Glory Days' and 'World Cup Stunner'.

Long overshadowed by neighbours Brazil and Argentina on the world soccer stage, Uruguay has a rich football history. The country hosted and won the first World Cup in 1930.

A largely ranching nation, home to some 3.5 million people, Uruguay were also world champions in 1950. The country is known as a breeding ground for South American football talent.

Retired Olga Rodriguez, 60, was close to tears as she talked about Friday's win. "Thank you for making the whole country happy," she said in message to the team's players.

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