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South Korea holds Uruguay to 0-0 draw at World Cup

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AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) Another favorite team failed to impress in the early stages of the World Cup.

This time, South Korea beat South American Uruguay with a 0-0 draw on Thursday, which probably favors the Asian team.

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The draw at Education City Stadium was another early World Cup match with an unexpected result. Argentina and Germany lost their first games due to heavy defeats. This one hinted that he was different.

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Uruguay coach Diego Alonso said he was pleased, as was fellow South Korean Paulo Bento. Alonso sounded less convincing.

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“I’m more than happy with the result,” Alonso said. “I am sure that this group stage will determine the last match. We all know that the second game is key, as is the third. But it won’t affect whether we qualify or not.”

Uruguay will next play Portugal in Group H and South Korea will play Ghana, both games on Monday. The top two teams in the group will advance to the 1/8 finals.

South Korea, where striker Son Heung-min wore a mask to protect a broken left eye socket, has always looked more likely to score against the more experienced Uruguayans. The South Koreans were faster, they put pressure from the first whistle.

Many South Korean fans wore Batman-like masks in solidarity with Song, who was injured on November 2 in a Champions League match for English club Tottenham. He had a few first chances but seemed to be tired in the second half.

“He (Son) had a serious injury,” Bento said. “He has been inactive for a long time. He was able to return to the team only in the last days. And, of course, after an injury, it is natural that you need some time to adapt. But I think overall we had a good performance.”

In a match with few clear scoring chances, with South Korea often in control, Uruguay had better scoring opportunities with Diego Godin heading into the post in the 43rd minute and Federico Valverde in the 89th.

Alonso started the offensive line-up with Luis Suárez, Darwin Nuñez and Facundo Pellistri in front, with Valverde and Matias Vecino in midfield. But they rarely had possession in the beginning.

South Korea advanced early and Son excited the crowd every time he touched the ball, but he only managed one menacing attack in the first half. South Korea has always looked faster than Uruguay, but not necessarily more dangerous. The team’s best chance came in the 34th minute when Hwang Woo-jo landed a close-range shot over the crossbar.

Uruguay began to have more possession as the second half progressed, but always seemed cautious, showing less initiative despite having more experienced players.

Son fell through early in the second half and Martin Cáceres received the first yellow card of the match.

Alonso sent Edinson Cavani in place of Suárez in the 64th minute as the pace of the match slowed until Valverde hit the post in the closing minutes.

“In the first 20 minutes we fought Korea,” Alonso said. “We couldn’t take the ball away from them. We were unable to achieve pressure and lost accuracy.

“Obviously we dominated much more in the second half. I think we were better than them, but we lacked attack a bit. I mean more attack. We also tried to be more competitive.”

AP World Cup coverage: and


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