SCRAPPY AFFAIR SEES URUGUAY SHARE SPOILS WITH SOUTH KOREA
Darwin Nunez made his World Cup bow as Uruguay kicked off their campaign against Paulo Bento’s South Korea side. The two teams were evenly matched heading into the encounter and it proved to be the theme of the day.
Darwin started on the left wing of a conservative 4-5-1 setup, with ex-Liverpool striker Luis Suarez leading the line. It was a keenly contested affair, with South Korea possibly edging the first half in terms of threatening attacks.
Sergio Rochet in the Uruguayan goal was untroubled however, as Son and co failed to get the final pass or shot right. Darwin hugged the touchline first half and had a thankless task to be honest. He had to fight for every ball, with La Celeste not getting enough men up in support.
Both sides went close in the first half, with Ui-Jo skying his effort from just a few yards out. It was a sitter. Uruguay meanwhile hit the post on the stroke of halftime through veteran Diego Godin’s header from a corner.
Diego Alonso’s men carried a bit more threat after the break. Darwin Nunez showed a clean pair of heels to leave Kim Min-Jae on the turf as he collected Godin’s diagonal. The 23 year old advanced towards goal but his cutback was smothered by the goalkeeper.
It was a frustrating outing for Suarez, with Edinson Cavani replacing him just after the hour mark. It was a scrappy affair, with both sides not taking too many risks in search of a winner.
Heading into the final ten minutes, Darwin had another pop at goal, cutting inside and curling just wide of the far post after being released down the left wing by Cavani. Uruguay went close again in the 90th minute when Valverde’s rasping drive cannoned off the upright.
The Real Madrid midfielder was the pick of the match, with his energy and drive evident throughout. His celebration when he halted a late counter after throwing in a big tackle on Kang-In summed him up. He’s growing into some player.
Both sides settled for a point. Not a bad start considering the nature of the group, with Portugal taking on Ghana in the other group game. No matter the result in that fixture, Uruguay will have to step up their game when they take on the Portuguese on Monday.
For Darwin, it was a gentle introduction to World Cup action. He put in a huge shift, with his pace and energy stretching the defence and causing them problems. He will be aiming to get off the mark next time out.