Captain Diego Godin scored in the 81st minute as Uruguay edged 10-man Italy 1-0 Tuesday to reach the second round of the World Cup, although the victory was overshadowed by a biting incident involving the South American side’s star forward Luis Suarez.
With four-time champion Italy heading home after the group phase for a second time in four years, coach Cesare Prandelli and football federation president Giancarlo Abete both resigned moments after the match. Godin rose above a crowd of defenders to meet a corner with his left shoulder and veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had no chance.
Moments earlier, replays showed Suarez apparently bite the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini as the pair clashed in the Italian penalty area. Suarez was already sanctioned with a heavy ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in the English Premier League in 2013 and FIFA can sanction players for biting with bans of up to two years.
Chiellini said Suarez should have been sent off and that the red card for Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio should never have been given.
“The red for Marchisio and not sending off Suarez were ridiculous,” Chiellini said. “It was absolutely clear. There’s even a mark,” Chiellini said of the bite.
Suarez did not respond to questions from reporters after the game, passing by them with a smile and a thumbs up. The biting incident was only one of many ugly incidents in a highly physical “in or out” match at the Arena das Dunas.
Marchisio was shown a direct red card for putting his boot into Egidio Arevalo’s knee in the 59th. Also, Mario Balotelli picked up his second yellow card in two matches for a dangerous foul during the first half, and was benched for the second period.
“(The referee) certainly didn’t give us a helping hand,” Buffon said. “But in the end you can’t always be recriminating and putting the blame on others. “Every now and then, it’s only right that you accept what you’re to blame for and when you’re coming off two defeats without even scoring a goal, we clearly also have to take our share of that blame,” added Buffon, who tied the record by being selected for his fifth World Cup squad.
Uruguay had to win to go through while Italy needed only a draw and it was clear that the Azzurri were playing for that result when Prandelli replaced Balotelli with a defensive midfielder, Andrea Parolo, to start the second half.
It appeared the tactic could work when veteran goalkeeper Buffon stuck his right arm out to deny an excellent effort from Suarez in the 66th on a sizzling afternoon. But Godin was waiting to meet a corner from substitute Gaston Ramirez, who had come on three minutes earlier. With his back to the goal, Godin managed to redirect the ball into the far corner.
Uruguay had argued for a penalty in the 51st when Edinson Cavani got his legs tangled with Leonardo Bonucci, but Mexican referee Marco Rodirguez motioned to play on. The last time Italy failed to proceed from the group stages in two successive World Cups came between 1950 and 1966, when Italy was eliminated in the first round four successive times.
Italy controlled much of the match with its passing accuracy in midfield while Uruguay relied on swift counterattacks and even attempted to surprise Buffon with shots from its own half.
In the 22nd, Balotelli was shown a yellow for a needless foul on Alvaro Pereira. Balotelli practically leapt over the midfielder, hitting the back of the opponent’s head with his left shin. Pereira was already the victim of a head injury in Uruguay’s 2-1 win over England.