Uruguay knocked Italy out of the World Cup with controversy, as Claudio Marchisio was harshly sent off and Luis Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini.
The Azzurri needed at least a point to reach the Last 16, while Uruguay would only qualify with a victory in this head-to-head in Natal. With Daniele De Rossi injured, Cesare Prandelli adopted a Juventus-style 3-5-2 formation with Leonardo Bonucci making his tournament debut and Serie A Capocannoniere Ciro Immobile partnering Mario Balotelli for the first time. La Celeste had several familiar names, but Diego Lugano was still out of action.
Andrea Pirlo was making his 112th appearance for Italy, equalling Dino Zoff’s career tally. He had the first chance, as a free kick was palmed out from under the bar by ex-Lazio goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
Edinson Cavani turned wide from an Alvaro Pereira low cross, but Balotelli clattered into Pereira and his second booking of the tournament means he’ll be suspended.
Balo also should’ve passed to Immobile on the counter, but instead went for goal and blasted wide from a huge distance. The Torino striker ballooned the volley over from a deflected cross.
Gigi Buffon performed two stunning saves in quick succession, rushing off his line to parry from Suarez and then sticking up a hand to block the Lodeiro follow-up.
Prandelli made a surprise substitution at half-time, replacing the visibly irritable and already-booked Balotelli with Parma attacking midfielder Marco Parolo, while Uruguay moved to 3-5-2.
Cavani had penalty appeals for a coming-together with Bonucci and Rodriguez flashed an angled drive across the face of goal from a dangerous position.
There was a shock turning point on the hour mark when the referee showed a straight red card to Claudio Marchisio for his challenge on Arevalo Rios. His studs were up, but they were so close together that there was no dangerous power behind the tackle, so it seemed a very harsh decision. Marchisio became the first Azzurro to see red in a World Cup since Marco Materazzi against Australia in 2006.
Italy were down to 10 men for the remaining half-hour and it became a siege, but Buffon got down for a miraculous save with his wrist as Suarez skipped between two defenders and toe-poked it from 12 yards.
Yet Uruguay coming forward opened up space for the counter and Jimenez needed a perfectly-timed sliding tackle to block Immobile as he pulled the trigger.
Antonio Cassano replaced the hobbling Immobile and Verratti was stretchered off with muscular problems to make way for his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Thiago Motta.
Muslera plucked Cassano’s cross off the head of Parolo in an all-Parma move, but there was controversy on 79 minutes when Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder. This is the third time he has done something like this, but the officials did not see it and strangely the Liverpool striker managed to hurt his teeth while doing it.
Moments later Uruguay took the lead, as Diego Godin rose to meet a corner from six yards. With this result, Italy would be eliminated.
Pirlo’s free kick was deflected inches wide and Thiago Motta’s first touch let him down on a Cassano assist in the Uruguayan box. Italy had chances throughout stoppages, but were visibly exhausted. Even Buffon went up for a Pirlo free kick, but it was too late.
Italy 0-1 Uruguay
Scorers: Godin 81 (U)
Italy: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Darmian, Verratti (Thiago Motta 75), Pirlo, Marchisio, De Sciglio; Immobile (Cassano 72), Balotelli (Parolo 46)
Uruguay: Muslera; Gimenez, Godin, A Pereira; Gonzalez (Ramirez 78), Arevalo Rios, Rodriguez, Caceres; Lodeiro (M Pereira 46); Suarez, Cavani
Ref: Rodriguez (MEX)
Sent off: Marchisio 59 (I)