Sunday 22 April 2018

Suarez touch belies his youth


Jeremy Wilson

This might yet become the World Cup of Kaka, Rooney or Ronaldo but, after 50 of the 64 games, it is an even younger generation who continue to shine most brightly.

Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain and Germany's Mesut Ozil were arguably the standout players of the group phase, while the knockout rounds began yesterday with a star turn from Luis Suarez, another player below the age of 24. With two different but equally exquisite finishes, Suarez not only clinched Uruguay's place in the quarter-finals of a World Cup for the first time since 1970 but has moved level with Higuain, David Villa and Robert Vittek for the Golden Boot.

Suarez's form may also prompt a summer auction for his services. No formal offer has been made, but he is very much on the radar of Alex Ferguson, while Tottenham have already made an inquiry.

According to Ajax manager Martin Jol, Suarez turned down the chance to join Harry Redknapp's Spurs squad in January. In recent interviews, he indicated a preference for United or Barcelona.

Having been the top scorer last season in any European league with 35 goals in 33 games for Ajax, he is also now proving he can thrive on the biggest stage.

Suarez was the difference for Uruguay against South Korea -- with his goals maintaining a remarkable tournament so far for the South American countries. With Uruguay fielding their now usual 4-3-3 formation, Huh Jung-Moo sacrificed a striker so Lee Young-Pyo could be added to what became a five-man midfield. Even so, South Korea immediately put Uruguay on the back foot, forcing a foul on the edge of the area. The Jabulani ball clearly appears to be hindering the best free-kick takers at this World Cup, but Monaco striker Park Chu-Young did manage to curl a shot over the Uruguayan wall and on to the outside of Fernando Muslera's right post.

This seemed to awaken Uruguay and they took an eighth-minute lead following some slick passing and dreadful goalkeeping. Edinson Cavani released Diego Forlan down the left flank with an excellent pass from the outside of his foot, but the danger should still have been contained. However, Jung Sung-Ryong came inexplicably wandering off his line and, having missed Forlan's cross, left an empty goal. The angle was acute, but Suarez remained calm to punish the mistake.

With the rain lashing down throughout the second half, the pitch became heavy and quickly began to disintegrate. South Korea initially dealt much better with it and their reward came in the 68th minute.

It was a result of another piece of bad goalkeeping, Mauricio Victorino had failed to clear a free-kick, prompting Muslera to come rushing off his line in an attempt to challenge Lee Chung-Yong. However, Muslera misjudged it and left an unguarded goal into which Lee headed the ball. But it was to be Suarez's day, cutting inside Cho Yong-Hyung, before curling his 80th-minute winner outside Jung's outstretched hand and inside the post.

Sunday Independent

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