NATAL, Brazil — After nearly two weeks of mostly beautiful, free-flowing football, the game’s ugly side was on full display when Uruguay edged 10-man Italy 1-0 on Tuesday to reach the second round of the World Cup.
With a bite on the shoulder, a shin to the head, and a boot to the knee, there wasn’t much to admire at the Arena das Dunas. Even the match’s lone goal was a product of brute force — it didn’t even come with a kick or a header.
Uruguay defender Diego Godin scored with his shoulder in the 81st minute of an “in or out” match to send his side through to the second round, but the victory was overshadowed by a biting incident involving the South American squad’s star forward Luis Suarez.
With four-time champion Italy heading home after the group phase for a second time in four years, coach Cesare Prandelli and football federation president Giancarlo Abete both resigned moments after the match.
“When you don’t score a goal in two matches and don’t create much, it’s clearly a failure,” Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon said, with the Azzurri having also been beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in their previous game.
This match was decided when Godin rose above a crowd of defenders to redirect a corner with his back to the goal.
Moments earlier, replays showed Suarez apparently bite the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini as the pair clashed in the Italian penalty area.
Suarez was already sanctioned with a heavy ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in the English Premier League in 2013 and FIFA can sanction players for biting with bans of up to two years.
Chiellini said Suarez should have been sent off and that a red card earlier for Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio should never have been given.
“The red for Marchisio and not sending off Suarez were ridiculous,” Chiellini said.
“It was absolutely clear. There’s even a mark,” Chiellini said of the bite.
It was one of the most appalling incidents in the World Cup since France’s Zinedine Zidane head butted Marco Materazzi of Italy in the 2006 final.
The biting incident wasn’t all. In the 59th, Marchisio was shown a straight red card for putting his boot into Egidio Arevalo’s knee.
Midway through the first half, Mario Balotelli picked up his second yellow card in two matches for a needless foul on Alvaro Pereira. Balotelli practically leapt over the midfielder, hitting the back of his opponent’s head with his left shin.
Pereira was already the victim of a head injury in Uruguay’s 2-1 win over England.
Balotelli was benched for the second period.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez wanted to watch the biting incident again.
“If that happened,” he said. “The referee probably didn’t see it. For me, and for all the people in Uruguay, we had more important things.”
Suarez did not respond to questions from print reporters after the game, passing by them with a smile and a thumbs-up.
Uruguay’s next opponent will be the winner of Group C, which is currently led by Colombia.
The last time Italy failed to proceed from the group stages in two successive World Cups came between 1950 and 1966.
COSTA RICA 0,ENGLAND 0
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Costa Rica finished first in what many considered the World Cup's toughest group after a dour 0-0 draw against a second-string England side. Costa Rica only needed a draw to top Group D and it played that way, setting up in a defensive 5-3-2 formation.
COLOMBIA 4, JAPAN 1
CUIABA, Brazil — Substitute James Rodriguez scored a brilliant goal and set up two more for Jackson Martinez to confirm top spot in Group C and eliminate the Asian champions.
GREECE 2, IVORY COAST 1
FORTALEZA, Brazil — Georgios Samaras scored an injury-time penalty to put Greece into the second round.
Samaras was adjudged to have been brought down by substitute Giovanni Sio and Samaras calmly slotted in the spot kick for the win that puts Greece through to the knockout stage. Ivory Coast would have advanced with a draw.