NATAL – Gp D: Italy 0, Uruguay 1¬†—- Italy accused Luis Suarez of biting defender Giorgio Chiellini moments before conceding, to Diego Godin, the goal which sent Uruguay, and not them, into the second round of the World Cup finals.

The incident occurred towards the end of a rough, tough clash in the Estadio Pernambuco when Suarez clashed with Giorgio Chiellini. Suarez, who on the end of rugged treatment all through the game, appeared to bite Chiellini and then headbutt him as the ball bounced away for a corner.

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Chiellini reacted instantly, pulling at a shirt which had been half-ripped from his shoulder, as Uruguay lined up the right-wing corner. Defender Diego Godin then rose magnificently above the Italian defenders to head what proved the winning goal hard and low past the diving Gigi Buffon’s right hand.

Italy, already down to 10 men after having had Claudio Marchisio sent off earlier in the second half, had no option but to throw everone forward. Buffon even spent most of the last couple of minutes in the Uruguayan half, in vain.

Tension building

In front of FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the Azzurri had gone into the game confident of securing the draw which would have been enough to take them through as group runners-up while Uruguay had to win to overtake them.

Uruguay’s veteran coach Oscar Washington Tabarez grew increasingly animated in the technical area as the match progressed.

Mario Balotelli, inevitably, was at the centre of the first-half fray. First he was booked for jumping all over Alvaro Pereira then he was left in a heap himself after being on the receiving end of similar treatment from Diego Godin.

Balotelli’s booking was his second of the finals so he would have missed Italy’s second round game: not that this matters any more.

Uruguay pressed forward but found Italy compact at the back and Buffon secure in goal. On the one occasion when Suarez did break through on the left the veteran Italian captain was quickly across to foil the striker’s attempted cross.

The temperature rose further in the second hald when Marchisio was sent off just after the hour for a stamp on Arevalo.

Numbers game

Uruguay forged forward to try to take advantage of their numerical superiority and very nearly did so when Suarez burst through the centre of the Italian defence for the first time. Buffon, diving to his right, deflected the ball wide off his right wrist.

Minutes later the match hit the flashpoint which saw Suarez accused – yet again – of biting an opponent.

Suarez was serving a suspension for biting when Liverpool bought him three years ago and he was then banned in England last year for biting the Chelsea defender Brane Ivanovic.

FIFA has been asked for a statement.