Giorgian de Arrascaeta scored twice in six minutes to give Uruguay a 2-0 win over Ghana on Friday but it was not enough to prevent them from crashing out of the 2022 Fifa World Cup on goals scored.
It was the first time in two decades that la Celeste have failed to reach the knockout stage.
Unable to score in their first two matches, Uruguay needed a win to advance from Group H and for already-qualified Portugal to avoid defeat by South Korea. But the Asian side’s shock 2-1 win – the second goal coming in stoppage time – ensured they went through by virtue of having scored two more goals.
With South Korea tied with Portugal late in their match and Uruguay two goals up, the South American side had one foot in the last 16 before the pendulum swung in the direction of South Korea, who ahead in the table on goals scored.
Uruguay battled desperately for the decisive goals, with Ferderico Valverde going close with a volley from outside the area and Maxi Gomex having his shot saved by keeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi two minutes from time.
Uruguay went on the attack right from the start of the match and finally broke the deadlock on 26 minutes when Darwin Nunez’s cross from the right was missed by two defenders and found Luis Suarez, whose low shot was spilled by the keeper for De Arrascaeta to head home from close range.
Uruguay struck again six minutes later when Nunez flicked the ball on to Suarez, who knocked it on to De Arrascaeta to volley under the keeper.
The goals came just minutes after Ghana were awarded a penalty on in their first attack of the match after a shot from Jordon Ayew was spilled by keeper Sergio Rochet, who pulled down by onrushing Mohammed Kudus.
Andre Ayew fired tamely at Rochet, giving Uruguay the impetus to double down on their attack.
Uruguay lacked the same kind of punch when they returned from the interval, however, and they failed to further break down Ghana and boost their goal difference, allowing South Korea to advance.