FIFA World Cup: Suarez bite kicks off a storm as Uruguay sink Italy
Uruguay kept their World Cup dream alive with a 1-0 win over Italy on Tuesday that sent the four-time champions crashing out of the competition, but the win was overshadowed by a Luiz Suarez biting controversy
Natal (Brazil): Uruguay kept their World Cup dream alive with a 1-0 win over Italy in Natal on Tuesday that sent the four-time champions crashing out of the competition.
Uruguay captain Diego Godin scored the winning goal nine minutes from time against Italy, for whom Claudio Marchisio was sent-off, to take second place in Group D behind Costa Rica, who secured top spot with a 0-0 draw against England.
But it was Luis Suarez, who was in the limelight again, for the wrong reasons. The striker was at the centre of another biting storm as Uruguay sensationally dumped ten-man Italy out of the World Cup.
Uruguay's forward Luis Suarez (L) kicks past Italy's goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon during a Group D football match between Italy and Uruguay at the Dunas Arena in Natal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 24, 2014. AFP
But the shock of Italy's exit is almost certain to be overshadowed by an incredible incident involving Suarez just moments before Godin's winner.
Television replays showed Suarez -- who has twice been sanctioned for biting players in his career before -- appearing to attempt to sink his teeth into Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder in an off-the-ball incident.
Chiellini leapt to his feet to remonstrate with Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez, pulling his shirt off his shoulder to show where Suarez had attempted to bite him.
If taken up by FIFA disciplinary chiefs it will almost certainly mean the end of the tournament for Suarez, painted as a villain at the 2010 World Cup for his deliberate goal-line handball which denied Ghana a famous quarter-final victory.
If Suarez is found guilty of another biting incident, it is inconceivable he will face anything other than a lengthy ban.
In November 2010 he was banned for seven matches by the Netherlands FA after biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal on the shoulder when he played for Ajax.
In April 2013, he was given a 10-match ban by the English FA after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in a match at Anfield.
He was also banned for eight matches in 2011 for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
Italy, who had Claudio Marchisio sent off in the second half join a growing number of European sides on the World Cup scrapheap after the exit of Spain, England, Croatia and Bosnia.
The first half was instantly forgettable although Gianluigi Buffon made a brilliant double save, first coming out to block Suarez's effort from a tight angle and then jumping up to produce a stunning one-handed reaction parry to deny Nicolas Lodeiro.
The first half was notable more for fraying tempers and play-acting.
Italy forward Mario Balotelli almost replicated German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher's infamous head-high knee challenge on France forward Patrick Battiston from the 1982 World Cup when he clattered into Alvaro Pereira, who had also been briefly knocked unconscious in the previous match with England.
Meanwhile, Italy's strapping centre-back Chiellini was twice guilty of rolling around on the floor clutching his face for no obvious reason.
Italy, who would have gone through with a draw, suffered a crucial blow when Marchisio was shown a straight red for stamping down on Egidio Arevalo's shin.
Uruguay started to turn the screw and Buffon made another brilliant one-handed stop to deny Suarez 24 minutes from time.
But then Godin had the last word, heading home a corner as Italy crashed out for the second finals in a row in the group stages.