Giorgian de Arrascaeta’s brace fired Uruguay to a 2-0 victory over Ghana as both teams were dramatically eliminated from 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Andre Ayew missed a 20th minute penalty for Ghana but Giorgian de Arrascaeta punished that mistake with a quick-fire double to put Uruguay ahead, albeit via a 26th minute header then volley six minutes later.
Uruguay eventually clung on for victory but a comeback win for South Korea saw the two-time champions eliminated by virtue of scoring two goals to South Korea’s four goals, after the pair tied on four points and the same goal difference.
Ghana meanwhile finished bottom of Group H following their second defeat in the tournament.
Portugal will now face the Group G runners-up in the Round of 16, whilst South Korea will take on the winners of Group G.
With victory proving enough to send either Ghana or Uruguay through, this clash quickly proved hot-headed as both teams battled hard with Uruguay getting the first proper chance, as Darwin Nunez broke forward in the 13th minute but dawdled in the box and was successfully intercepted.
Ghana responded three minutes later with Inaki Williams’ pass to Jordan Ayew, who took aim but Sergio Rochet blocked the shot, only to then foul Mohammed Kudus in the follow-up which handed the African team a penalty after a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) check.
Andre Ayew though stuttered as he stepped up to take the 20th minute penalty which he aimed towards the bottom-right corner, yet Rochet made an easy block to clear the spot-kick.
Ghana however quickly paid the price six minutes later as Suarez curled in a low shot but goalkeeper, Lawrence Ati-Zigi could only deflect for de Arrascaeta to nod in from close-range to register Uruguay’s first goal of the tournament.
That goal also put Uruguay up to second behind Portugal who took a fifth-minute lead through Ricardo Horta against South Korea, only for Kim Young-Gwon to equalise for South Korea in the 27th minute despite them still sitting bottom of the group.
De Arrascaeta then doubled Uruguay’s lead in the 32nd minute as he volleyed in from Suarez’s chipped pass, beyond Ati-Zigi’s legs which left Ghana staring elimination in the face at half-time after having started the match sat second in Group H.
Manager, Otto Addo opted to make a double change at half-time with the Ayew brothers both substituted for Osman Bukari and Kamaldeen Sulemana.
That gamble almost paid off immediately as Bukari fired wide within the opening minute of the restart, although he was unfortunately offside when he unleashed his attempt.
Nunez then drew a foul from Premier League rival, Daniel Amartey inside the box but VAR denied him a penalty, having deemed the Liverpool forward of handling the initial pass into the box.
Facundo Pellistri put a 65th minute shot wide as he tried to wrap up victory and qualification for Uruguay, before Federico Valverde unleashed a powerful volley shot around 30 yards from goal five minutes later, which Ati-Zigi saved.
Ghana eventually pushed forward repeatedly in search of a winner as Kuddus and Antoine Semenyo both wasted chances, whilst Hwang Hee-Chan put South Korea ahead against Portugal in injury time at Education City Stadium.
Hee-Chan’s goal consequently put South Korea on the cusp of qualifying as Group H runners-up as the news quickly arrived at Al Janoub Stadium, sending both Ghana and Uruguay into all-out attack with four minutes of normal time left as both teams now faced elimination.
As the final whistle eventually blew following eight further minutes of injury-time, neither Ghana or Uruguay found any further goals which meant that Ghana finished bottom of the group despite finishing on top.
Uruguay were eliminated by virtue of scoring two fewer goals than South Korea as both teams found themselves tied on four points apiece, with an equal goal difference of 0 after South Korea had come from behind to beat Portugal 2-1.
Ghana: Lawrence Ati-Zigi, Alidu Seidu, Daniel Amartey, Mohammed Salisu, Baba Rahman, Thomas Partey, Salis Abdul Samed (Kyereh 72′), Mohammed Kudus (Fatawu 90+8′), Andre Ayew (Bukari 45′), Jordan Ayew (Sulemana 45′), Inaki Williams (Semenyo 72′)
Substitutes: Tariq Lamptey, Denis Odoi, Elisha Owusu, Abdul Fatawu, Daniel-Kofi Kyereh, Osman Bukari, Ibrahim Danlad, Daniel Afriyie, Gideon Mensah, Joseph Aidoo, Abdul Manaf Nurrudeen, Kamaldeen Sulemana, Alexander Djiku, Kamal Sowah, Antoine Semenyo
Uruguay: Sergio Rochet, Guillermo Varela, Jose Gimenez, Sebastian Coates, Mathias Olivera, Facundo Pellistri (de la Cruz 66′), Federico Valverde, Rodrigo Bentancur (Vecino 34′), Giorgian de Arrascaeta (Canobbio 80′), Luis Suarez (Cavani 66′), Darwin Nunez (Gomez 80′)
Substitutes: Fernando Muslera, Diego Godin, Matias Vecino, Nicolas de la Cruz, Sebastian Sosa, Lucas Torreira, Matias Vina, Maxi Gomez, Facundo Torres, Edinson Cavani, Martin Caceres, Agustin Canobbio, Manuel Ugarte, Jose Luis Rodriguez
Referee: Daniel Siebert (Germany)