Another day, another scoreless draw at a World Cup that has had far too many of them. However, this one nearly ended in a display of pyrotechnics.
Both South Korea and Uruguay experienced distinct instances of imminent peril. In the first half, Uruguayan center back Diego Godn, who is competing in his fourth World Cup, slammed a header off the inside of the post. In the 90th minute, Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde nearly scored with a rocket of a shot that caromed off the post. Valverde is having an amazing season. South Korea, whose star Son Heung-min played with a protective mask after suffering an orbital fracture earlier this month, too had missed opportunities. Striker Hwang Ui-jo missed a clear shot from the edge of the box by just inches. In the end, a draw isn’t a bad outcome for any team. South Korea had exclusive possession for the majority of the game, had restricted opportunities, although Uruguay came the closest to grabbing the three points. This opening game in a deep Group H means that there are still two valuable positions in the knockout stage up for grabs.
South Korea’s skipper took the field despite on’s eligibility for this match being in question. He hadn’t been on the field since Nov. 1, when he was hurt during the opening period of a Champions League match against Marseille.
The South Korean star winger’s two corners in the opening ten minutes produced little scoring opportunities, but his team was preventing Uruguay from feeding its offensive talent. Luis Suárez, the striker, was only allowed three touches in the first half as a result.