Luis Suárez left in tears as Uruguay beat Ghana but are knocked out of World Cup

South Americans miss out on last-16 after being denied vital extra goal by controversial VAR decision

Luis Suárez begins the eternal night that follows an epic international career. Mostly chaotic, regularly magnificent, his 136 caps and 68 goals spanned 15 years and four World Cups, but it ended in a Doha dugout, tears covered by his drenched Uruguay shirt.

It had finished in Education City, Portugal beaten 2-1 by South Korea, a result that eliminated the Uruguayans, denying them a last 16 showdown against Brazil.

The tournament is poorer for this reality.

Daniel Siebert, the referee, had a bad game, missing at least one definite Uruguay penalty, perhaps swayed by the manner Suárez, Darwin Núñez and others spat adjectives at him.


In ugly scenes at full-time, the German officials cut a hasty retreat as they were jostled and pursued down the tunnel by Uruguayan players.

Suárez just sat there, empty.

The second-half was too tetchy to categorise but the first-half can be broken into four acts; the controversial Ghana penalty and subsequent miss by André Ayew, Giorgian de Arrascaeta’s first goal, De Arrascaeta’s second goal and the De Arrascaeta stamp on Jordan Ayew.

Siebert, VAR and its artificial intelligence concluded that Sergio Rochet fouled Mohammed Kudus in the 16th minute. It was the correct call, but Suárez stayed as close to Siebert as was legally possible, resisting technology to scream in the ref’s face when the decision was announced. Núñez received a yellow card for dissent.

When the dust settled, Andre Ayew stutter-stepped before Rochet saved a soft spot kick. Núñez was on hand to clear the lines.

End of act one. Before act two got under way, Leicester’s Daniel Amartey ratcheted up the bitterness, clashing with Núñez as Suárez and Jordan Ayew became acquainted. Núñez also chipped outstanding Ghanian goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi but Mohammed Salisu volleyed off the goal line.

As news filtered through that Portugal had scored (the South Koreans would soon equalise), De Arrascaeta followed up a Suárez shot, saved by Ati-Zigi, to nod home the rebound.

Six minutes later Uruguay had a second goal, this time De Arrascaeta brilliantly volleyed Suárez’s looping assist.

End of act three. This contest was littered with dirty challenges but how the officials decided to move past De Arrascaeta stamping on Ayew’s chest beggars’ belief. Perhaps they were distracted by Salisu going through the back of Suárez a split second later.

Neither Ayew brother reappeared for the second half.

With 25 minutes remaining Suárez made way for Edison Cavani to cheers and jeers, depending on the fans perspective of that hand ball from the 2010 World Cup quarter-final. Despite being harshly booked by Siebert, Uruguay manager Diego Alonso made a poor call as they needed their record goal scorer’s devilish instincts as opposed to Núñez’s heavy touch.

“We are out because of the penalty that was awarded to Portugal that Fifa said was not a penalty,” said Alonso of the Jose Maria Gimenez handball that led to a 2-0 defeat last Monday. “It was that penalty and not the point we got against South Korea.”

Uruguay struggled to maintain enough urgency, as the 43,443 attendance began to deflate, despite the live threat of a South Korea goal knocking them out, but after Facundo Pellistri and Federico Valverde efforts both went close, VAR was left idle when Núñez was tripped in the box by Amartey.

The west Africans did come to life, Manuel Ugarte flashing wide before Kudus drew a brilliant save from Rochet.

When the news filtered through that Hwang Hee-chan had scored for South Korea with six minutes of injury time remaining, the camera flashed to Suárez, hands over mouth, retired on a wooden bench unless Cavani could save the day.

The end game was madness. In the 89th minute Cavani’s header drew a one-handed save from Ati Zigi, but the flag was up. Offside. The big screen put a crying Suárez up again and the Ghanaian fans let out the sweet roar of revenge, even if they too are leaving Qatar. Karma, they sang.

Ghana kept charging out of defence as an increasingly desperate Uruguay ran out of World Cup lives with Cavani taking a dive, Maxi Gomez’s shooting low at Ati Zigi and, finally, Sebastian Coates toeing a glorious chance wide.

The South Koreans, huddled across town, waiting until ridiculous scenes in Al Janoub set them free.

Ghana: Ati-Zigi, Seidu, Amartey, Salisu, Baba, Partey, Abdul Samed (Kyereh 72), Williams (Semenyo 72), Andre Ayew (Bukari 46), Jordan Ayew (Sulemana 46), Kudus (Fatawu 90).

Uruguay: Rochet, Varela, Gimenez, Coates, Olivera, Pellistri (De la Cruz 66), Valverde, Bentancur (Vecino 34), De Arrascaeta (Canobbio 80), Suárez (Cavani 66), Núñez (Gomez 80).

Referee: Daniel Siebert (Germany).

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent