Uruguay tops Ghana
Last team from Africa ousted in quarterfinal
JOHANNESBURG — Twice at the end of the night, Luis Suarez thrust his left arm skyward. The first time was to stop Ghana forward Dominic Adiyiah’s header from crossing the goal line for a certain score that would have eliminated Uruguay from the World Cup in extra time of the quarterfinal. The second was to celebrate his team’s spot in the semifinal after a penalty shootout victory.
Uruguay advanced, 4-2, after a 1-1 tie that ended when Suarez swatted a ball away from the goal and was immediately ejected. But Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan struck his ensuing penalty shot off the crossbar and failed to seal the match for the only African team left in this tournament.
“This is a sporting injustice,’’ Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac said. “But I have to congratulate Uruguay for reaching the semifinal because they are the lucky ones.’’
Calling it luck is generous. The teams played a back-and-forth game that saw each of them miss promising scoring opportunities. But the final play denied Ghana the first spot in a World Cup semifinal for an African team, and will see Uruguay advance to the final four for the first time in 40 years.
Just before the end of the first half, Sulley Muntari put Ghana ahead, 1-0, and forced Uruguay to play from behind for the first time this tournament. Muntari, a midfielder who played only 46 minutes as a substitute spread over three matches this tournament, started his first game because Andre Ayew was suspended. Muntari had not been happy about his secondary role, nor was he quiet about his dissatisfaction, lashing out at his coach.
But two weeks after he was nearly sent home for insubordination, Muntari fired a long-range, left-footed shot past the diving Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Musrela that almost extended his team’s stay in South Africa one more game. Uruguay grabbed one back through a stunning Diego Forlan free kick from 24 yards out 10 minutes into the second half.
Unlike the Round of 16 match between Paraguay and Japan, which was also settled by a penalty kick shootout, both teams here tried to settle the game in the run of play. Frustration nearly boiled over when, in the 82d minute, Maxi Pareira shot high and wide from outside the box rather than pushing a modest pass to the onrushing Forlan.
The Uruguayan striker fell to his knees, pounded the grass, tore off his headband and pleaded with his teammate to explain why he had forsaken his effort. Pareira shrugged, and the game moved into overtime.