Uruguay booked their place in the World Cup knockouts with a dramatic 1-0 victory over 10-man Italy. The Azzurri, who just needed a draw to advance, were in control for the majority of the match, though the game changed with the second half sending off of their midfielder Claudio Marchisio. Diego Godín promptly headed Uruguay into a lead they didn't relinquish, sending his side into the knockouts and eliminating their opponents.
The game's first half was a pretty lifeless affair, with Italy quite happy to dictate possession and keep Uruguay off the ball for as long as possible. They didn't look to play with any pace or purpose, but rather slowly wear Uruguay into submission. On the rare moments the Celeste did have the ball, they counter-attacked pretty ineffectively, with the Azzurri defensive trio more than capable of handling their direct threat.
Italy's first and only real chance of the first half fell to striker Ciro Immobile just short of the half-hour, though he scuffed Mattia de Sciglio's cross comfortably over the bar on the volley. It looked like the game was finally starting to open up when Uruguay tested Gianluigi Buffon for the first time at the other end five minutes later, with the veteran forced into a double save on close-range effort from Luis Suárez and Nicolás Lodeiro.
But by halftime, chances were still at a premium. Uruguay lacked the necessary creativity and invention from midfield to cause problems, while Italy's attack partnership of Immobile and Balotelli was disjointed and lacking in support from a pretty static midfield. When Italy coach Cesare Prandelli withdrew Balo for midfielder Marco Parolo at the break, it didn't look like getting any more exciting.
However, with time ticking on, Uruguay realized they needed to try and force the issue. They created the best chance of the entire match within 15 minutes of the restart, though winger Cristian Rodríguez volleyed wide after a smart one-two with Suárez.
Then, just moments later, the game changed completely. A seemingly innocuous duel between Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio and his opposite number Egidio Árevalo Ríos ended with the Uruguayan lying on the ground, only for the referee to suddenly brandish the red card. Replays showed he'd gotten the decision spot-on, with Marchisio having slyly dug his studs into Árevalo's shin.
Uruguay had all of the momentum, and they should have been ahead within five minutes. Suárez capitalized on a rare defensive lapse from Italy to charge straight through the middle of the box, only for Buffon to get down to make a brilliant save on the close-range effort. Uruguay continued to bang on the Italy door, and eventually they broke it down.
Italy's Coach Quits
Inside the final 10 minutes centre-back Diego Godín rose to head a corner beyond Buffon and into the back of the net, as Uruguay took the lead in controversial circumstances. Just moments earlier Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini and Suárez came to blows in the penalty area, with the former seemingly claiming to have been bitten by the Uruguay forward. Tensions boiled over on the touchline, with a member of the Italy coaching staff sent to the stands by the referee.
Uruguay withstood a late barrage to take victory, progressing into the knockout stages against the odds.
Italy: Buffon; Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli; De Sciglio, Marchisio, Pirlo, Verratti (Motta 75'), Darmian; Balotelli (Parolo 46'), Immobile (Cassano 71').
Red cards: Marchisio (59').
Uruguay: Muslera; Á. Pereira (Stuani 63'), Godín, Giménez, Cáceres; Rodríguez (Ramírez 78'), Árevalo Ríos, Lodeiro (M. Pereira 46'), González; Cavani, Suárez.
Goals: Godín (81').