Missed opportunities cost both Uruguay and South Korea as the two sides played out the fourth goalless draw of the 2022 World Cup at the Education City Stadium on Thursday.
Hwang Ui-jo blazed over from close range before Diego Godin hit the post with a header as the two sides traded jabs in the first half.
Edinson Cavani came off the bench to replace Luis Suarez but no goal was forthcoming – Federico Valverde hitting the post from distance being the closest either side came – as Group H opened up with a point apiece.
A tight first half was mainly comprised of near-misses as South Korea’s quick attackers looked to unsettle Uruguay’s experienced defence, with Jose Gimenez on hand twice to clear promising attacks.
Possession was shared equally but it was Hwang who missed the first big chance, firing well over while leaning back eight yards out from goal. It was a criminal miss and South Korea were so nearly punished for it just moments later.
A whipped Uruguay corner was met brilliantly by Godin, but the former Atletico Madrid defender saw his header bounce off the bottom of the left upright before being cleared.
The first half ended with just one minute of added time, with Uruguay’s long-ball tactics cancelling out South Korea’s counter-attacking intent at the break.
The two teams continued to probe whenever play broke out of the intense midfield battle. A brilliant Godin ball from the back released Darwin Nunez, who took the ball to the byline but couldn’t find a teammate.
Valverde smacked the bar from distance before the quiet Son Heung-min curled wide, but for the most part the second half struggled to provide any drama.
Clear cut chances continued to elude the two sides and proceedings in Al Rayyan ended in stalemate ahead of Portugal’s clash with Ghana later on Thursday.
GK: Sergio Rochet – 6/10 – Only had to collect a cross here and there with no shots to save.
RB: Martin Caceres – 6/10 – Picked up a booking for a late challenge on Son. Unsurprisingly didn’t show too much attacking intent from right-back.
CB: Diego Godin – 8/10 – So unlucky to see his header bounce back off the post. Aerially dominant in defence.
CB: Jose Gimenez – 7/10 – Made a couple of crucial interventions and picked out some great passes from the back.
LB: Mathias Olivera – 7/10 – Should have easily slipped in Nunez but overhit the pass. Was a threat in the South Korea box and made two key passes.
CM: Federico Valverde – 7/10 – One snap-shot sailed comfortably wide early on. Didn’t have his shooting boots on but so nearly made the breakthrough from distance as his effort cannoned off the post.
CM: Rodrigo Bentancur – 7/10 – Started to get on the ball more as Uruguay grew into the first half. Survived a brief penalty shout and then waltzed through midfield with some glistening footwork.
CM: Matias Vecino – 6/10 – Snapped into challenges in midfield and was industrious before being subbed off.
RW: Facundo Pellistri – 5/10 – The Man Utd youngster saw precious little of the ball as Uruguay struggled to put attacks together.
ST: Luis Suarez – 4/10 – Struggled to hold the ball up during the first half. Looked miles off the pace required and came off shortly after the hour mark.
LW: Darwin Nunez – 7/10 – Bustled around the pitch looking to get involved in the action. Could have had a shot on goal had Olivera not botched the pass. Curled one half-chance wide in the second half.
SUB: Edinson Cavani (64′ for Suarez) – 6/10
SUB: Nicolas de la Cruz (78′ for Vecino) – 6/10
SUB: Matias Vina (79′ for Olivera) – 6/10
SUB: Guillermo Varela (88 for Pellistri) – N/A
Manager: Diego Alonso – 5/10 – The uninspired tactics didn’t get the best out of Uruguay’s vibrant attackers and stylish midfielders.
GK: Kim Seung-gyu – 6/10 – Got a glove to a Nunez cross and scrambled well to retrieve it. Little else to do.
RB: Kim Moon-hwan – 7/10 – Put in a few good crosses and made a couple of interceptions.
CB: Kim Min-jae – 7/10 – Suffered an awkward injury when slipping trying to close down Nunez. Brushed it off and continued to lead the defence.
CB: Kim Young-gwon – 7/10 – Not very accurate with his long passes from the back but made several clearances and partnered Napoli’s Kim well.
LB: Kim Jin-su – 7/10 – Didn’t give Pellistri any time to settle and kept Uruguay’s right-sided attack quiet.
CM: Hwang In-beom – 8/10 – Saw plenty of the ball in the first half and looked to open Uruguay up in the final third. Mopped up loose ball well.
CM: Jung Woo-young – 6/10 – Lucky to escape without a caution for a late tackle on Nunez. High work rate but a little unpolished techincally.
AM: Lee Jae-sung – 7/10 – Only misplaced four of his 33 passes. Excellent defensively, recovering the ball well and leading his side’s press.
RW: Na Sang-ho – 6/10 – Displayed his pace with a few runs down the right but also lost the ball three times.
ST: Hwang Ui-jo – 5/10 – Won’t want to see the replay of his miss – the Olympiacos striker had to give his side the lead there. Came off in the second half without having had another chance.
LW: Son Heung-min – 5/10 – Some loose touches here and there didn’t help Son, who was on the periphery of most of the game. Made one chance from a Uruguay mistake late on but couldn’t find the target.
SUB: Cho Gue-sung (75′ for Hwang) – 6/10
SUB: Lee Kang-in (75′ for Na) – 7/10
SUB: Son Joon-ho (75′ for Lee) – 6/10
Manager: Paulo Bento – 7/10 – His side looked disciplined throughout, defending well with good creative options looking to hit Uruguay on the counter.