World Cup 2022 final score: Uruguay and South Korea share points in fourth goalless draw of the tournament

Uruguay and South Korea started their World Cup season by splitting points in a fourth goalless draw witnessed by Qatar in their first 14 matches.

An enthralling first half, if occasionally low quality, offered chances for both teams to take control of the match, Diego Godin came closest as his header crashed into the back of the post from Federico Valverde’s serve . However, the lack of him was not the most glaring. Hwang Hi-Jo managed to lift the ball into the open net after excellent work from Kim Moon-Hwan down the right.

The zip with which both teams approached the first half didn’t particularly follow them out of the tunnel after the break. South Korea began to take control of the contest but could not break down a stubborn Uruguayan defense. Heung-min Son was denied just as he was about to pull the trigger from a diving Jose Maria Gimenez. Substitute Cho Gue-Sung turned and shot wide from outside the box with 10 minutes to go, but this was a game that quickly dwindled towards a points quota.

Uruguay largely made do with shots from the plate, although Federico Valverde nearly made the most of one, hitting a shot against the post as time expired. Seven minutes of added time felt more like a curse than a kindness, before the final whistle.

Is Nunez wasted on the left?

Speaking ahead of the match, Uruguay manager Diego Alonso underlined what a welcome dilemma it was trying to combine his many attacking options. While that’s a better problem than not having star strikers, the 4-3-3 formation he fielded didn’t seem to put his best talents in their best positions, particularly Darwin Nunez.

While the young striker has often played on the left for Liverpool, he didn’t seem obligated to step back as today, where he spent far too much of the first half. It’s not a great sign of how your team is playing if one of the most expensive and hyped forwards in the world ends the game with as many steals in the back as Diego Godin.

When he was able to attack, particularly on occasions when Mathias Olivera overlapped on the left, he looked by far the most likely route for Uruguay to score. He may have only had one shot but he was tempting, deflecting the ball from distance after being strained by Edinson Cavani.

A brilliant flick down the left saw him wreak havoc along the South Korea backline, but the problem was when the cut came. The Uruguayans would have preferred to hope that Nunez would receive it rather than deliver it. Instead there were precious few options as Luis Suarez looked constantly off the pace, failing to register a shot or create a chance for a teammate. The fact that he was invariably too far behind the game was exemplified by the fact that he recorded eight touches in his own half and two in the penalty area.

Cavani has offered a more physical presence off the bench but Alonso’s plans would really need to start with Nunez in the front seats to make an impact.

South Korea looks fit for this World Cup

Qatar 2022 is already four times better than Russia 2018 when it comes to producing 0-0 draws at the end, don’t rule out South Korea adding another one before the end of this competition. This is only a partial criticism because the two four-man banks anchored by Napoli’s Kim Min-Jae will not be brought down easily… if the opposition can get that far. At the top of the pitch, frontline pressed with real energy, their 10 ball possession regains in the final third the most of any team at a World Cup so far.

The problem may be what they do from there on out. Hwang’s blunder stood out as a major blunder, but the greater concern for Paulo Bento may be how often he turned those high-ball steals into real chances. At times, Son looked like the player who has terrorized Premier League defenses for years. This could be due to the facial injury which forced him to wear a mask at this tournament, but it should be noted that he was struggling for consistency at Tottenham even before undergoing surgery on the bone around his eye. If he fails to deliver magical moments, the goals might not come very often in the next two games involving South Korea.

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