- Uruguay and South Korea played out a goalless draw in their Group H opener at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Thursday.
- In the 18th minute, Uruguay’s Federico Valverde made the first major attempt of the match at the Education City Stadium, but his shot went over the bar.
Another day, another scoreless draw at a World Cup that has seen its fair share of these contests. Nevertheless, this one nearly concluded with pyrotechnics.
Both South Korea and Uruguay had instances of offensive peril. Diego Godn, a Uruguayan center back competing in his fourth World Cup, hit the post with a header in the first half. Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde, in the midst of a remarkable season, nearly scored with a rocket shot in the 90th minute that hit the post.
South Korea, whose talisman Son Heung-min sustained an orbital fracture earlier this month and wore a protective mask, had its own missed opportunities, with attacker Hwang Ui-jo missing an open shot from the edge of the six-yard box. A draw is hardly a terrible outcome for either team in the end.
The majority of the encounter was dominated by South Korea’s possession and limited opportunities, but Uruguay came closest to grabbing all three points. This first match in Group H indicates that the race for the two coveted slots in the knockout stage is as wide open as ever.
Son’s availability for this opening encounter was uncertain, but the South Korean captain was selected to play. It was his first appearance on the field since Nov. 1, when he was injured during the first half of a Champions League match against Marseille.
In the opening 10 minutes, the South Korean winger’s two corners did not result in any scoring opportunities, but his team prevented Uruguay from feeding its attacking talent. As a result, striker Luis Suárez had only three touches in the opening stages.
However, Uruguay fought its way back into the game and created a fantastic goal opportunity. A cross into the penalty area begs for a touch, but Darwin Nuez is unable to reach it. As has often been the case with his club, the Liverpool attacker showed flashes of vivacity early on, but his team lacked a decisive edge. According to Opta, he was one of just three Uruguayan outfielders who did not touch the opposing goal during the first half.
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After a moment of adversity, South Korea regained composure and settled in. A ball landed at Hwang Ui-feet jo’s just outside the six-yard box, after the pass had shattered the Uruguayan defense. This time, though, it is Korea’s turn to squander a golden scoring opportunity, as the Olympiacos striker soared the ball over the crossbar.
With minutes remaining in the first half, the greatest opportunity presented itself. The most-capped player in Uruguay’s history, Diego Godn, 36, soared for a free header inside the area that struck the inside of the post and rolled harmlessly away. Another fantastic opportunity was missed, and this scoreless stalemate into the halftime break.