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FIFA World Cup 2022: Uruguay Denied By Woodwork In 0-0 Draw With South Korea

The best chance of a pulsating first half fell to Uruguay captain Godin, whose glancing header from a corner hit the foot of the left-hand post just before the break.

FIFA World Cup 2022: Uruguay Denied By Woodwork In 0-0 Draw With South Korea
South Korea's Hwang In-beom and Jung Woo-young in action with Uruguay's Edinson Cavani. (Photo: Reuters)

Uruguay defender Diego Godin and midfielder Federico Valverde both hit the woodwork as the South Americans were held to a 0-0 draw by South Korea in their opening World Cup Group H game on Thursday.

Wearing a black mask to protect a facial fracture, Son Heung-min started for the South Koreans, yet it was teammate Hwang Ui-jo who came closest to breaking the deadlock, but he scooped his shot over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

The best chance of a pulsating first half fell to Uruguay captain Godin, whose glancing header from a corner hit the foot of the left-hand post just before the break.

Valverde fired a stinging shot in the final minute of regulation time that hit the top of the post as the two sides battled to a stalemate in front of a crowd of 41,663, with group rivals Portugal set to meet Ghana later in the evening.

There were only a few hundred South Korean supporters in attendance but they made enough noise to drown out Al Rayyan and were chanting away throughout the contest, the beat of their drums matching the fast and frenetic pace of play.

"We're a very brave team, we're not afraid of our opponents," South Korea coach Paulo Bento was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"The bottom line is we need to control all moments of the game, knowing we're in a different competition to our qualifiers. But this won't hold us back from what we intend to do. And we showed today we're capable."

Uruguay's first sight of goal came in the 19th minute through Federico Valverde, who connected with Jose Maria Gimenez's pass and took a touch before firing a half-volley towards goal, but his ambitious attempt went just over the bar.

The South Americans had begun to find their footing when South Korea, having been patiently controlling the first half so far, disrupted their rhythm and launched a counter-attack from a Uruguay corner before the half-hour mark.

Son Heung-min picked up the ball on the left flank and cut inside, skipping past two Uruguay defenders before curling a right-footed effort towards goal, but left back Mathias Olivera was able to clear it away.

HWANG MISS:

South Korea should have taken the lead in the 34th minute when Moon-hwan Kim fizzed the ball into the penalty area and into the path of Hwang in front of goal, but the forward could not keep his composure and sent it over the bar.

Hwang's team mates fell to their knees after his miss and they were almost made to pay for it just before the break when centre back Godin rose highest to power a header from Valverde's corner but it bounced off the left post and away from goal.

Gimenez made a crucial tackle to deny Son five minutes after the restart following a flowing move from South Korea, while Jung Woo-young blocked midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur's powerful strike at the other end.

Uruguay saw more of the ball and looked dangerous as the game wore on but found few chances to break through an organised Korean defence. Forward Darwin Nunez was a threat on the counter with his pace but endured a frustrating afternoon.

Uruguay manager Diego Alonso swapped one stalwart for another when he replaced Luis Suarez with Edinson Cavani after 64 minutes and the striker was a lively presence, almost connecting with Nunez's fizzing shot which flew wide.

Valverde unleashed a thunderbolt in the final minute of regulation time that struck the top of the post and Son had one final chance in the closing stages but dragged his shot wide.

Uruguay have won the opening match at only one of their last seven World Cups, having drawn and lost three each but still progressed from the group stage in five of those tournaments and have a track record of deep runs in the competition.

They were semi-finalists in 2010 and reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Russia, after winning all three of their group games without conceding a goal.

Thursday's result left Group H wide open for both teams before their second group games on Monday, with Uruguay taking on Portugal and South Korea facing Ghana.a

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