Uruguay’s bitterly disappointed manager and players blamed penalty decisions against them for their exit from the World Cup on Friday after they beat Ghana 2-0 but were pipped to a last 16 spot by South Korea due to an inferior number of goals scored.
Uruguay finished Group H on four points, the same as South Korea, and would have qualified on the next deciding criteria of goal difference had they conceded one goal less or scored one goal more during their three games in Qatar.
Coach Diego Alonso pointed to a controversial late penalty awarded to Portugal in their second group game, a 2-0 loss. At the end of the win over Ghana, his players confronted the referee complaining about several unsuccessful penalty appeals.
“FIFA told us that the Portugal penalty was not a penalty, there you have the proof of what happened,” said a stoney-faced Alonso. “The team did everything they could to get into the second round, we’re going home with a bad taste in our mouth.”
Aggrieved striker Luis Suarez was blunter, saying football’s governing body had an agenda against his nation.
“FIFA is always against Uruguay,” said Suarez, complaining that Darwin Nunez and Edinson Cavani should both have been given penalties for fouls by Ghana.
“After the match, I wanted to go and hug my family and people from FIFA come and tell me ‘no’, but you see a Frenchman with his children on the substitutes’ bench,” he added.
Suarez was substituted when his team was 2-0 up and had appeared to be going through to the knockout stage, before South Korea scored their late winner to beat Portugal 2-1.
“I feel sadness and disillusionment. I was lucky enough to play in four World Cups,” the former Barcelona and Atletico Madrid striker told Uruguayan TV station Teledoce. “Before the match I was thinking about my four-year-old son who had never seen me win a World Cup match. Today he saw me win but with an image of sadness. For a father, for a player, that is tough.”
The veteran, in his fourth and probably final World Cup, wept when the final whistle went at the Al Janoub Stadium. “We gave our best, every one of us, the situation hurts. We were full of hope. It was not possible. We apologise for not getting through to the next round,” he said.
Giorgian de Arrascaeta, who scored both of Uruguay’s goals on Friday, struck a calmer note in the aftermath of the game.
“We are sad because we left our all, we scored goals and the outcome didn’t depend on us,” he said, adding that it was best not to comment about the referee in the heat of the moment.
“We’d have to analyse it, but what’s done is done, and there’s nothing left to do.”
Alonso said his team was unlucky not to score a third goal against Ghana, which would have taken them through, as they poured forward at the end.
Instead, they went out because they only scored two goals in their three tournament games, compared to South Korea’s four.
“We had several chances to score the third goal. At 80 minutes, we were qualified. We had four or five chances in the last minutes but unfortunately we didn’t score,” he said.
“Today I very much liked our national team. We found our way. We were brave, we had ball possession, we had no fear in the centre backs, in the goalkeeper. Of course I would have liked to see this version of Uruguay before, but this is what happened. My players broke their backs, they gave their all.
“We are out because of Portugal’s penalty that was awarded in extra time that, according to FIFA, was not a penalty. I truly regret that we are out of this World Cup, because I really believed in these players and what they could have done.”