Fortaleza (Brazil): The biting controversy involving Luis Suarez overshadowed Uruguay’s passage into the World Cup second round at the expense of Italy, while Greece converted a penalty in added time to pull off a sensational win over Ivory Coast to reach the tournament’s round of 16 for the first time.
Greece came back from the dead through Georgios Samaras, who scored from the penalty spot in the 91st minute to give his team a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast. Greece, who were at the bottom of Group C before the game began, finished second in the pool behind Colombia.
Colombia defeated Japan 4-1 in Cuiaba to progress as group toppers.
Uruguay advanced from Group D after knocking Italy out of the competition with a 1-0 victory. The game had its fair share of controversies and on top of the list was Luis Suarez allegedly biting Italian Giorgio Chiellini minutes before the South Americans scored the winning goal. FIFA has already said that it will investigate the incident.
Costa Rica topped Group D after a goalless draw against England.
It was sudden joy for Greece and heartbreak for Ivory Coast, who would have qualified with a 1-1 outcome.
There was dramatic last-minute twist in store as the referee decided to award a spot-kick to Greece. Samaras struck a clean shot to the right for a memorable win.
Young Andreas Samaris put Greece in the lead just before half-time by pouncing on a defensive error to slot it home. Wilfried Bony equalised for Ivory Coast in the 74th minute with the help of Gervinho.
Earlier in Natal, Uruguay captain Diego Godin’s late strike against 10-man Italy sent his team into the last 16 and knocked their opponents out of the tournament in the opening stages for the second time running.
Godin’s goal off a corner in the 81st minute was enough for the 2010 semifinalist to progress in the competition after a fiercely fought battle against the Italians in a match witnessing flared tempers, rough tackles and a moment when Chiellini accused Luis Suarez of biting him.
The result meant Uruguay finished second in Group D behind Costa Rica, who drew 0-0 with England in Belo Horizonte.
Both teams, knowing the importance of the game, started cautiously. Italy had the better of the possession in the first 45 minutes but they failed to attack the opposition goal consistently.
The half also saw plenty of rough tackles including the one involving Mario Balotelli, who was shown a yellow card for the second time in the group stages after a hard challenge against midfielder Alvaro Perreira. The Italian stiker’s form and behaviour on the field led to Marco Parolo replacing him at the break.
Uruguay star forward Suarez, who took the field despite concerns over his fitness, kept himself in the game with couple of shots on the target. The Italians, however, defended well to keep their opponents at bay.
Action heated up further in the second half. The Italians were down to 10-men in the 59th when midfielder Claudio Marchisio was handed a red card for nastily pushing Egidio Arevalo to the ground.
Uruguay expectedly stepped up the pressure on the now vulnerable Italian but failed to find the breakthrough with the clock ticking past the 80th minute.
The South Americans however were not to be denied in the 81st minute when Godin used his shoulder to score the winner.
Suarez could not score this time but was in the spotlight for the wrong reason. Two minutes before Uruguay found the goal, the star forward leaned towards Chiellini in the box.
Soon after the incident, the Italian was seen indicating the referee that it was a bite mark.