FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Uruguayan Football Association and four of the Celeste's players – including Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin – following the team's furious reaction to their World Cup exit.

Uruguay failed to escape Group H despite Friday's 2-0 win over Ghana, as South Korea advanced at their expense following their comeback victory against Portugal.

Diego Alonso's team were ultimately eliminated on the basis of goals scored, and reacted angrily when Cavani was denied a late penalty after going down in the Ghana 18-yard box.

Social media footage showed the former Manchester United striker pushing the VAR monitor over after the final whistle, while several other Uruguay players surrounded referee Daniel Siebert.

FIFA detailed the charges, alleging misconduct of Uruguayan players and officials, offensive behaviour and discrimination, in a statement released on Monday.

The statement also said Uruguay quartet Cavani, Godin, Jose Gimenez and Fernando Muslera were being investigated separately for alleged offences relating to offensive behaviour, violations of the principles of fair play and misconduct. 

Speaking after the game, which almost certainly marked the end of his World Cup career, striker Luis Suarez declared: "FIFA is always against Uruguay".

In a separate statement, FIFA revealed Serbia would also face charges of misconduct, discrimination and failure to preserve order and security following their fractious 3-2 defeat to Switzerland on the same day.

Serbia's loss ensured they finished bottom of Group G, while Switzerland advanced to the last 16 by joining pre-tournament favourites Brazil on six points.

Luis Suarez claimed FIFA "is always against Uruguay" as his World Cup career ended in tears and a group-stage exit in Qatar.

The former Barcelona, Liverpool and Atletico Madrid striker played in Friday's 2-0 win against Ghana, which came thanks to a double from Giorgian de Arrascaeta.

Veteran Suarez was substituted before the end and was a helpless observer when Edinson Cavani was denied a late penalty after going over in the Ghana 18-yard box.

Suarez felt that was a reasonable claim, and he also considered Uruguay should have had a spot-kick early in the second half after Darwin Nunez went down.

Despite referee Daniel Siebert assessing the Nunez incident on a pitchside monitor, the match official ruled it should not be a penalty.

Suarez had tears streaming as Uruguay's exit was confirmed, with South Korea pipping them to a last-16 spot after a 2-1 win over Portugal. Another Uruguay goal would have seen them pip the South Koreans to second spot.

Suarez pointed to group winners Portugal being awarded a disputed penalty against Uruguay in Monday's game between the teams, saying that "hurt" in terms of goal difference. Relating it to incidents in the Ghana game, Suarez added: "The penalty against Darwin is very clear. Edi's also has contact."

Calling on FIFA, the world governing body, to "give an explanation" about the rationale for penalty decisions, Suarez added: "They are not excuses, but incredible things are taking place in the World Cup."

He claimed to have been prevented from going across to his family following the final whistle against Ghana, too.

"After the game I want to go hug my family, and people from FIFA come to tell me no," Suarez said, "when you see a Frenchman with his children on the substitute bench.

"It seems that Uruguay has to have more power. FIFA is always against Uruguay."

Suarez, at the age of 35, is winding down his playing career but hoped for a flourish on the world stage. Instead, his tournament ended in a pot shot at tournament chiefs.

He had to settle for a small consolation, but even winning in front of his little boy left a sorry taste.

"I was lucky to play my fourth World Cup. And what I thought about before the match was my four-year-old son, who hadn't seen me win a World Cup match," Suarez said.

"Today, he saw me win, but he sees this image of sadness and I think that's it. For a father, for a player it is very difficult, but we are going to face the situation and encourage our team-mates for what lies ahead."

Team-mate Federico Valverde underlined the dismay in the Uruguay ranks, with South Korea's late winner from Hwang Hee-chan against Portugal having snatched away second place.

"There is much sadness and disappointment," Valverde said. "This is a very good group, of players and the coaching staff. Everyone's family was always there to help us.

"People supported us and encouraged us in difficult times, and it's a great sadness. We are sad for not having given the country the joy it deserves."

Otto Addo insists Ghana took no comfort from seeing rivals Uruguay join them in making an early exit from the World Cup after Friday's dramatic Group H finale.

Ghana and Uruguay both harboured hopes of reaching the last 16 ahead of Friday's game, which represented the teams' first meeting since La Celeste claimed a famous World Cup quarter-final win in 2010, when Asamoah Gyan missed a penalty after Luis Suarez saw red for a goal-line handball.

Giorgian de Arrascaeta's brace helped Uruguay to a 2-0 victory, but South Korea's last-gasp 2-1 win over Portugal in the group's other game ensured Paulo Bento's team clinched second place.

After the match, Daniel Amartey suggested to reporters that Ghana became determined to take Uruguay out of the tournament with them once South Korea went ahead. 

Addo, however, insisted any animosity between the teams did not influence Ghana's approach, saying: "I don't know who said it, but nobody told them what the [South Korea] score was.

"I don't know how they would know. For us, it was about trying to score. As a coach for more than 12 years, I have had games where we led 3-0 and lost 4-3. Anything can happen. 

"I don't think anyone was thinking about this, but I definitely wasn't. Everyone saw wild games with goals in the last minutes. We just wanted to equalise, which would have gotten us through."

Asked whether his players were motivated by a desire to avenge the 2010 defeat, Addo responded: "What hurts the most is that we're out. 

"I know the public sought revenge but I don't think this way, and I told the players they should not as well. 

"I am a strong believer that if you do not seek revenge, you will get more blessings. If it was not Uruguay, we would have tried against another team. 

"It was not important. We were prepared, but today the luck was not on our side. We could have prevented both goals, this is where we have to learn.

"Sometimes you are so close to taking one step further, but then you concede and it gets into your mind. To come back out of this is very difficult. 

"We did it against South Korea but today we couldn't do it, the second goal came way too early. 

"We created a lot of chances, at the end we could have conceded a third goal. I believed until the end that we could score."

While Ghana have failed to progress beyond the group stage at their last two World Cups (2014 and 2022), Uruguay have fallen at the first hurdle for the first time since doing so in 2002.

Otto Addo confirmed he is leaving his role as Ghana coach as he predicted the team will continue to improve after a promising World Cup campaign.

Addo was appointed as interim boss of the Black Stars in February, but has been juggling the role with his job as a talent coach for Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.

Ghana would have progressed to the last 16 of the World Cup in Qatar with a win over Uruguay at Al Janoub Stadium on Friday, but ultimately finished bottom of Group H after a 2-0 defeat.

Andre Ayew missed a first-half penalty, with Giorgian de Arrascaeta's quickfire double putting Uruguay in control, albeit the win was not enough to send Diego Alonso's team into the knockout round.

In his post-match news conference, Addo announced he would be stepping down.

"When I started as an assistant coach in October last year, it was clear I would stop after the World Cup," he said.

"At the moment, me and my family see our future in Germany, I like my role at Dortmund, we are very happy there.

"I would be leaving even if we were world champions, this is a decision for the family. This is my decision."

Ghana's squad was the youngest at the tournament, and Addo sees a bright future for the team.

He said: "This is football, sometimes football is beautiful, sometimes really ugly, unfortunately for us it was not a happy day.

"There's not one player who has not missed a penalty, their goalkeeper was really good today.

"We had a lot of chances, but had to do better in defence. Allowing two chances against world-class strikers is two too much. We have a young squad, have to learn, sure it has a bright future.

"We have to believe in ourselves. The greatest players are great because they have experience. That comes from doing things wrong. 

"They have to work on all of these things. They will grow from this experience and will do better next time."

Diego Alonso blamed Uruguay's World Cup exit on Portugal's last-gasp penalty in their second Group H game.

La Celeste looked on course to reach the knockout stage on Friday with a 2-0 win over Ghana, yet South Korea's late winner against Portugal saw them progress at Uruguay's expense.

Uruguay and South Korea had the same goal difference, but the latter went through courtesy of having scored more goals.

However, Alonso does not think it should have come to that and lamented a contentious late penalty in their 2-0 defeat to Portugal, given against Jose Gimenez for handball.

"We are out because of the penalty that Portugal got and the goals scored," he said.

"We are not out because of the point against South Korea; we are out because of Portugal's penalty that FIFA said was a penalty. It was not a penalty."

Giorgian de Arrascaeta scored twice after Andre Ayew had missed a penalty for Ghana, but it ended in disappointment for Uruguay, with Luis Suarez among those in tears at the full-time whistle. 

Despite a disappointing early departure from Qatar 2022, Alonso was full of praise for the way his side acquitted themselves.

"I was critical in the other matches as we missed the creativity," he added.

"The second half against Portugal was really good. Today, I very much liked the team. We found our way, we were brave, not fearful, had the possession, and were able to link up.

"Of course, I would have liked to see this version earlier in the tournament. I have nothing to say to my players because they broke their backs and gave their best.

"Everyone could see what happened to us in the other matches. I know that my players gave it their all.

"From the first day, I believed in my players and they responded on the pitch. I am very proud of what we did.

"Everything we have done was spectacular. I deeply regret we are out, because I truly believe in these players and what we could achieve at this World Cup; their character, their determination."

Alonso bristled at a suggestion from one journalist that his players did not do enough, stating: "I disagree. I can't allow you to say that, I'm very sorry.

"The players made a huge effort every day, every match. They gave their utmost over the last year.

"All the decisions they made in their clubs was based in the national interest. I can't allow you to say they did not break their backs."

Uruguay failed to progress to the World Cup round of 16 despite a 2-0 win over Ghana, who were left to rue Andre Ayew's early penalty miss.

La Celeste looked set to claim second spot in Group H, but South Korea's late winner against Portugal saw them advance by virtue of scoring more goals than Diego Alonso's side.

In their first meeting since a controversial World Cup quarter-final in 2010, which saw Asamoah Gyan miss a penalty after Luis Suarez had been sent off for a handball on the goal-line, Ghana once again paid the price for a squandered spot-kick – this time Ayew failing to find the back of the net.

Giorgian de Arrascaeta scored twice soon after that to seal the victory for Uruguay, but it was not enough to see them to avoid an early exit along with Ghana.

 

 

 

 

Ghana's World Cup reunion with Uruguay is set to be full of bite, and Luis Suarez was handed a start in the showdown at Al Janoub.

Suarez said on Thursday that he will never apologise for his famous handball on the line in a 2010 quarter-final tie with the Black Stars.

With the scores level at 1-1, Asamoah Gyan hit the resulting spot-kick against the crossbar, and Uruguay went on to win on penalties.

Suarez was sent off for the handball, but it was put to him in the pre-match press conference that many Ghana fans still compare the former Liverpool and Barcelona star to the Devil.

Uruguay coach Diego Alonso had no issues in handing the 35-year-old a starting spot for the crunch Group H match, though. Uruguay need a victory to stand a chance of progressing to the last 16.

Ghana, meanwhile, can progress with a draw, though victory would ensure their place in the knockout stage.

Suarez was named at the top of a three-man attack also including Darwin Nunez and Facundo Pellistri. Edinson Cavani was named on the bench.

Federico Valverde and Rodrigo Bentancur continued in midfield, with Jose Maria Gimenez and Sebastian Coates at the centre of defence, with Barcelona's Ronald Araujo still unavailable due to injury.

Ghana coach Otto Addo made two changes to the side that beat South Korea 3-2, with Baba Rahman and Alidu Seidu coming in for Gideon Mensah and Tariq Lamptey respectively.

Mohammed Kudus has been Ghana's star in Qatar, and started as part of a three-man attacking midfield unit along with captain Andre Ayew and his brother Jordan.

As far as World Cup grudge matches go, not many – if any – can rival Ghana against Uruguay this century.

Twelve and a half years on from 'that' match in Johannesburg, the footage of Luis Suarez celebrating his next-level dark arts – some would use a stronger term – remains engrained in the memory.

While revenge may not be the main motive for winning Friday's latest encounter between the sides – or at least not in the view of Ghana boss Otto Addo – the Black Stars will be relishing the chance to get one over on Suarez and Co.

The prize on the line is not as big as in 2010, when Uruguay's penalty shoot-out win took them through to the World Cup semi-finals, but should Ghana avoid defeat at Al Janoub Stadium they will be through to the last 16 in Qatar.

Ahead of the tasty tussle, Stats Perform looks at why their only previous World Cup meeting was so notorious and what exactly is on the line this time around.

"The hand of God now belongs to me" 

Those are the words credited to Suarez in 2010, referencing Diego Maradona's equally as infamous goal for Argentina against England in the 1986 World Cup and clearly taking some pride in his act of gamesmanship.

Public enemy number one in Ghana and wider parts of Africa he may have been, but back home in Uruguay he was elevated towards legendary status.

"I always say if I was Suarez, I'd have done the same thing to save my country. He's a hero there," said Ghana great Asamoah Gyan. "People hate him, but he did what he had to do to get his country to the semi-final."

So what exactly did Suarez do to become hated or loved to the highest degree, depending on exactly who you ask?

No, the then-Ajax striker did not bite anyone – not in that game, at least – but rather used another part of his body to help send his country through at Ghana's expense.

 

After Diego Forlan had cancelled out Sulley Muntari's opener to take the match to extra-time, penalties loomed to determine who would reach the last four in South Africa.

Ghana looked the more likely side to score a winner in their bid to become the first African side to reach the semis of the competition, at which point Suarez illegally handled Dominic Adiyiah's goal-bound shot.

"Illegally handled" is one way of putting it; a great two-handed save on the line is another. Suarez did what was necessary to prevent Adiyiah's late effort from eliminating Uruguay, who went on to lose 3-2 to the Netherlands in the next round.

A red card was his punishment, though it was ultimately worth it as Gyan struck the crossbar from the subsequent spot-kick and it was Uruguay who went through on penalties after the game finished 1-1 at the end of 120 minutes.

 

The state of play 12 years on

More than the act itself, it was arguably the way Suarez stood on the edge of the pitch and wildly celebrated Gyan's missed effort that angered Ghana supporters so much.

The man who had just denied them their greatest day was about to enjoy his own greatest day – or at least with his national side, having had so much success at club level, where he is now plying his trade for Nacional once again.

And so we arrive full circle to the current day in Al-Wakrah, where on Friday it will be heartbreak for at least one of Ghana or Uruguay.

After a thrilling 3-2 victory over South Korea to follow up a just as lively 3-2 loss to Portugal, Ghana are second in Group H and will be assured of a place in the knockout stage should they win.

A draw, just like in Bloemfontein, may also be enough for Ghana should South Korea fail to beat group leaders Portugal.

Uruguay, who have failed to score in a stalemate with South Korea and 2-0 loss to Portugal, need to win and hope Portugal avoid defeat against South Korea.

Not quite winner takes all, then, but the stakes remain incredibly high in this huge grudge match, which Suarez will be hopeful of starting.

"I'm a guy who doesn't think too much in the past when this incident happened," Ghana boss Addo said in the build-up to the match. "I'm a strong believer if you don't seek revenge, you get even more blessings."

Maybe so. But by beating Uruguay on Friday to exact that revenge, Ghana will have blessings that may yet take them even further than the magical run 12 years ago that ended in the most crushing of manners.

Either way, in what will surely be his final World Cup, you would not bet against that man Suarez taking centre stage regardless of the outcome.

Ghana captain Andre Ayew knows there is more to come from Mohammed Kudus, who has cemented his place as one of the young stars of the 2022 World Cup.

Kudus, who was excellent in Ghana's opening defeat to Portugal, scored twice for the Black Stars to help them to a 3-2 win over South Korea last time out.

That result means Otto Addo's team head into their final Group H match, against Uruguay – a fixture that has plenty of history to it – knowing a win would guarantee their place in the last 16, while a draw may also be enough.

Kudus, who was close to joining Everton in August, arrived in Qatar having enjoyed a fine start to the season for Ajax, scoring 10 times, and his form at the tournament has been attracting interest from bigger clubs, with Barcelona director Jordi Cruyff confirming the Blaugrana have been tracking the 22-year-old.

"He has a bright future in front of him," Ayew said of Kudus.

"We know this, I know this, Ghana knows it now, the world is going to know it. You'll see, more is coming from my boy.

"Hopefully he can keep on shining because he has a really bright future."

Friday's match comes over 12 years on from their only previous World Cup meeting in the quarter-finals in South Africa.

With the game level at 1-1, Luis Suarez used his hand to block Dominic Adiyiah's header on the line. 

The Uruguay striker was sent off, but Asamoah Gyan rattled the crossbar from the resulting spot-kick, before Ghana lost the subsequent penalty shoot-out.

While Addo has insisted Ghana are not out for revenge, there will no doubt be plenty of bite to the encounter at Al Janoub Stadium.

Uruguay have taken just one point from their opening two matches and need to win to progress, while also relying on Portugal not to slip up against South Korea.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ghana – Mohammed Kudus

Ghana have scored in their last seven World Cup games and could equal Nigeria's record of eight for an African nation at the tournament, set between 1994 and 1998.

If they are to win, Kudus will likely play a key role once again. He is the only player to ever score twice in a World Cup match for the Black Stars, and another goal in the tournament would see him match Gyan's record haul of three goals in a single edition of the World Cup for Ghana.

Uruguay – Federico Valverde

Arguably one of the form midfielders in world football over the past year, Valverde was limited to having just one shot and making one key pass against Portugal.

But the Real Madrid star has the ability to take the game away from Ghana if, along with Rodrigo Bentancur, he can win the midfield battle.

Bentancur won possession 19 times against Portugal, the most by a player in a 90-minute World Cup match since Brazil's Mauro Silva in 1994 against the United States (also 19).

PREDICTION

Despite Uruguay's disappointing start in Qatar, Opta's prediction model still makes them favourites for this one, ranking their chances of victory at 54.8 per cent.

Uruguay have never lost a World Cup match against an African nation, and Opta say Ghana only have a 21.3 per cent likelihood of taking three points. 

The draw is given a 23.9 per cent chance, and that result would suit Ghana as long as Korea do not beat Portugal by a two-goal margin.

Luis Suarez feels no need to apologise for his handball against Ghana 12 years ago, as he hopes to propel Uruguay into the World Cup last 16.

Having taken a point from their opening two matches in Qatar, Uruguay must beat Ghana on Friday to progress from Group H.

However, the game at Al Janoub Stadium is something of a grudge match - at least from the point of view of Ghana supporters.

While the Black Stars coach Otto Addo insisted Ghana will not be out for revenge, Suarez has been a hugely unpopular figure in the African nation since he handled on the line to deny Dominic Adiyiah a goal in extra-time of a World Cup quarter-final tie in 2010.

Suarez was sent off, but Asamoah Gyan hit the crossbar from the resulting spot-kick, with Uruguay going on to progress to the semi-finals by winning the penalty shoot-out.

The former Liverpool and Barcelona star has never considered apologising, though.

"I don't apologise for that," he said in a press conference. 

"I did the handball, but the Ghana player missed a penalty, not me.

"Maybe I could apologise if I injured the player, but in this situation I was sent off, the ref said penalty – it's not my fault, because I didn't miss the penalty.

"It's not my responsibility to score the penalty."

When it was put to Suarez that Ghana, who could go through with a point, might be even more motivated if he plays in what could well be his final World Cup game, the 35-year-old suggested an obsession with revenge is unhealthy.

"I haven't thought about this. I don't know what people are saying or if they want revenge," he replied.

"The players who might play tomorrow might've been eight years old back then, will they be motivated? Some people might call me the Devil.

"We beat Portugal in 2018, have you heard Portuguese people saying they needed revenge because we lost?"

Suarez also referenced the incident involving Giorgio Chiellini in the 2014 World Cup, when the Uruguay forward bit the Italy defender on the shoulder.

"What I did to Chiellini, I made a mistake, but afterwards we played together in the Champions League and shook hands," he added.

"You can't focus on the past and revenge, that can be counter-productive."

Uruguay coach Diego Alonso said: "For us it's a defining match and that's what matters, I don't know if Ghana will want revenge, we respect them and we will try to be better to be able to qualify."

His counterpart Addo, meanwhile, reiterated Ghana's minds are not fixed on revenge.

"This is what I wish from every player, to do all they can to get to the semi-final of a World Cup. Maybe sacrifice themselves. This is my perspective," he said.

"It was very sad what happened in 2010, but we can't change it. In general, it is about perspective," Addo said.

"If the same incident had happened the other way round people would have talked about it, so for me it is not a big topic. We are going into the match like any other."

The protester who halted Portugal and Uruguay's Group H match at the World Cup has been released without charge.

Mario Ferri entered the field five minutes into the second half at Lusail Stadium, forcing a temporary stoppage while security caught and ejected him.

The Italian was carrying a rainblow flag and sported a shirt with the Superman logo alongside the messages "Save Ukraine" and "Respect for Iranian Women".

Ferri confirmed on Tuesday that he had been released, and explained the reasoning behind his protest.

"FIFA banned rainbow captain bands and human rights flags in the stands," he wrote on Instagram. "They blocked everyone but not me. We want a free world that respects all races and all ideas.

"[This is] a message for Iran... where women are not respected. The world must change. We can do it together with strong gestures that come from the heart with courage.

"Save Ukraine. I spent a month at the war in Kyiv as a volunteer and saw how much people are suffering.

"Thank you for all the messages of love that I receive from the world. Breaking the rules if done for a good cause is never a crime."

Ferri is a frequent pitch invader, having previously interrupted matches at South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014.

Portugal went on to win Monday's encounter, sealing their spot in the last 16.

FIFA has confirmed Cristiano Ronaldo did not score Portugal's first goal in Monday's win over Uruguay after Adidas' match ball technology revealed there was no touch on Bruno Fernandes' cross.

Ronaldo was initially thought to have scored his ninth World Cup goal when he attempted to meet Fernandes' inswinging delivery with a glancing header, putting Portugal on course for a 2-0 win. 

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner celebrated the strike wildly, though FIFA later intervened to award Fernandes with his first World Cup goal.

Fernandes later made the points safe from the penalty spot as Portugal confirmed their place in the last 16, and the use of technology from match ball suppliers Adidas means his brace will stand.

A statement from FIFA provided to ESPN read: "In the match between Portugal and Uruguay, using the Connected Ball Technology housed in Adidas's Al Rihla official match ball, we are able to definitively show no contact on the ball from Cristiano Ronaldo for the opening goal in the game.

"No external force on the ball could be measured as shown by the lack of 'heartbeat' in our measurements. The 500Hz IMU sensor inside the ball allows us to be highly accurate in our analysis."

Speaking after the win, Fernandes said the identity of Portugal's first goalscorer was unimportant but outlined his initial belief that Ronaldo had touched the ball.

However, FIFA's ruling means Fernandes has scored seven international goals in 2022, more than twice as many as any Portugal team-mate, with Ronaldo hitting the net three times for his country.

Meanwhile, Fernandes' former Manchester United team-mate remains one goal shy of matching Eusebio's all-time record of nine goals for Portugal at the World Cup finals – all of which came at the 1966 tournament.

Uruguay head coach Diego Alonso believes his Real Madrid star Federico Valverde is best suited as a defensive midfielder, but that the team will need to perform better as a whole to allow him to "shine more".

Alonso's comments came after Monday's disappointing 2-0 loss to Portugal, leaving Uruguay alongside Mexico and Tunisia as the only teams without a goal through two matches.

Following their failure to score in their 0-0 opener against South Korea, Uruguay were well-handled by the Portuguese, controlling only 40 per cent of the possession, although they only narrowly trailed in expected goals 1.33 to 1.27.

Not short on talent, Uruguay fielded a starting XI that included Liverpool's Darwin Nunez and 135-cap veteran Edinson Cavani up front, while Tottenham's Rodrigo Betancur partnered Valverde in midfield.

Having played both in central midfield and on the wing for Madrid, Valverde was deployed in the engine room against Portugal, and despite their desperation for goals, Alonso made it clear that is where he feels the 24-year-old is most valuable.

"I think Federico has played full matches with us in the qualifying round," he said. "He’s played in the same position, even playing higher up. 

"I think he played as a defensive midfielder with a second pivot together with Bentancur. It's the same position that you saw today. He was even playing higher up, or as a wide midfielder. 

"I think his main skill is playing through the central lanes. With us, he's showed a great performance in that position.

"When you talk about shooting, I think he shot once [against Korea], it just missed the top corner. He was unlucky he couldn't score. 

"For us, he's an important player with many skills. When the team plays better, I'm sure he will shine more."

Despite their lack of potency going forward, Uruguay still have a chance to advance to the knockout stage if they can defeat Ghana in their final Group H fixture – a rematch from 2010's quarter-final where Uruguay advanced on penalties.

"We are looking for victory against Ghana, there is no doubt about it," Alonso said. "If we have to make slight modifications, that is what we'll do. 

"We will provide a team all the weapons we have at hand, so I have full trust in my players. I'm sure the next game will be hard, but we will go all out so that we have a victory and we qualify.

"We are talking about qualifying or not qualifying. It was very important back in [2010], but this is a different situation. It will be a crucial game, but has nothing to do with what happened 12 years ago.

"We need to feel free and move freely as we played during the second half against Korea. We need to gamble more and push forward, playing in between the lines and going for one-on-ones on the sides. 

"Sometimes, opponents also play, they stop you, they know which are your main skills and they try to counter your play. But we need to continue trusting our team, our skills, the players we have, and to also give them trust to develop their game."

France, Brazil and Portugal are the only sides to have already secured World Cup knockout football, with numerous teams facing a nervy final matchday as they bid to reach the round of 16 in Qatar.

Pre-tournament favourites Brazil breezed through Group G with wins over Serbia and Switzerland, while France became the first reigning world champions to escape the group stage since the Selecao in 2006.

Portugal made sure of their round-of-16 spot after Monday's Group H victory over Uruguay, yet the likes of England, Spain, Germany and Argentina all need results on matchday three to progress.

The Netherlands are another big name that have yet to confirm their place in the latter stages of FIFA's top tournament, while Belgium face a tense Group F clash with Croatia to avoid an early exit.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the permutations riding on the final selection of group-stage action in the Middle East.

Group A

The Netherlands are largely in control of Group A, needing to just avoid defeat against the already eliminated hosts, Qatar.

Louis van Gaal's side will also reach the round of 16 if Ecuador beat Senegal, who have to win otherwise Aliou Cisse's side will rely on a somewhat unlikely win for Qatar over the Netherlands to remain in contention.

Ecuador, who have impressed in their first two games, must win or draw against Senegal to progress. However, Gustavo Alfaro's men could go through in defeat if Qatar beat the Netherlands.

Group B

A win or a draw is enough for England against fierce rivals Wales. Yet, the Three Lions would still progress as long as they avoid a four-goal defeat against Wales, whose goal difference is six fewer.

Iran are guaranteed to qualify with victory over the United States, who know anything other than a win against Carlos Queiroz's side will see them eliminated from the competition.

Quieroz's men could still escape Group B with a draw, though goal difference would come into play if Wales pick up their first win at the tournament against Gareth Southgate's England.

Group C

All four teams can still make it out of an enticing Group C, with Argentina – who were among the pre-tournament favourites – needing to beat Poland to guarantee a round-of-16 place.

La Albiceleste could progress with a draw, however, and would be through in that instance if Mexico and Saudi Arabia also share the spoils.

Yet, if Lionel Scaloni's men are held and Herve Renard's men beat El Tri, Argentina will be eliminated. If Mexico win and Argentina draw, it goes to goal difference.

Poland would go through by avoiding defeat, but would be knocked out by a loss coupled with a Saudi Arabia victory over Mexico, who must win to have any chance of remaining in the tournament.

If Poland lose and Saudi Arabia draw, the two teams will have to be separated by goal difference, which will also be used if Czeslaw Michniewicz's side are defeated and Mexico win.

Group D

France are already in the round-of-16 draw and will top Group D as long as they do not lose to Tunisia and Australia do not defeat Denmark, otherwise the Socceroos would move level on six points with Les Bleus.

While victory would take Australia through, Graham Arnold's side would still reach the knockout stage with a draw unless Tunisia beat France, which would see Jalel Kadri's men progress on goal difference.

Denmark would grab qualification with a win over Australia unless Tunisia triumph over France, which would leave goal difference or goals scored to separate the Carthage Eagles and Kasper Hjulmand's men.

Group E

Spain are the favourites to progress from Group E, requiring a win or draw against Japan. Defeat would see Luis Enrique's side still go through on goal difference, unless Germany lose to Costa Rica.

Germany must pick up three points to stay in contention and would qualify as long as Spain defeat Japan, though a draw in the latter game or a win for Hajime Moriyasu's men would see goal difference needed.

A win for Japan over Spain would take Moriyasu's side through, while a draw – coupled with a stalemate for Germany – would also see the Samurai Blue make the knockout stage.

Costa Rica would earn a last-16 spot with victory and a point would also take them through if Spain overcome Japan. A draw in both games or a defeat for Fernando Suarez's side sees them eliminated.

Group F

Croatia will pass through Group F if they avoid defeat against Belgium, who require victory against the 2018 runners-up to guarantee a place in the round of 16.

Such a win for Belgium would leave Croatia needing already eliminated Canada to overcome Morocco, with goal difference coming into play to separate Zlatko Dalic's side from the Atlas Lions.

A draw is likely not enough for Belgium. They would need Morocco to lose to Canada and then rely on goal difference, though Walid Regragui's men (+2) hold the advantage over Roberto Martinez's side (-1) in the decisive metric.

Morocco would progress with victory over Canada, while a defeat would see Regragui's side reliant on Belgium beating Croatia for goal difference to be decisive between Dalic's men and the Atlas Lions for second.

Group G

Brazil have secured knockout football and will finish as Group G winners with anything other than defeat against Cameroon, who need victory against Tite's side and results to go their way to make the last 16.

Rigobert Song's men would be eliminated if they do not win, though victory is not guaranteed to secure progression as Switzerland could play out a high-scoring draw with Serbia to go through on goals scored, which is used if sides cannot be separated on goal difference – Cameroon are currently on -1 and Switzerland level in the latter metric.

The somewhat expected scenario of Cameroon losing to Brazil would see Serbia and Switzerland become a winner-takes-all clash. 

Dragan Stojkovic's side need victory to progress in that instance, while a draw would be enough for Switzerland. Goal difference would be required if Serbia (-2) and Cameroon (-1) both win their final encounters.

Group H

Portugal are already through and would top Group H by avoiding defeat against South Korea, who could still make a late charge for the round-of-16 stage should the result between Uruguay and Ghana go their way.

The permutations are straightforward for Uruguay and South Korea, who must win to avoid elimination, though qualification is not assured even with victory.

Both teams would be level on four points with victories, again leading to goal difference to separate. Yet, if Ghana beat Uruguay then South Korea's result against Portugal will prove irrelevant for Paulo Bento's side.

A draw for Ghana and a win for South Korea would also see goal difference required to split the two sides, with Bento's men trailing the Black Stars by one in that metric, which could mean goals scored comes into it.

Bruno Fernandes claimed "I don't really think it matters" after being credited the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Uruguay to secure Portugal's World Cup last-16 place.

The Manchester United midfielder scored twice as Fernando Santos' side guaranteed their passage into the knockout stage with a match to spare after downing Uruguay at Lusail Stadium.

Portugal's opener was initially credited to Cristiano Ronaldo, who appeared to faintly glance home Fernandes' 54th-minute cross, but FIFA eventually intervened and awarded it to the latter.

Fernandes sealed the points from the penalty spot in the closing stages and is now focused on securing top spot in Group H by avoiding defeat against South Korea on Friday.

"I don't really think it matters who scored the goal at this point," he said when asked about Portugal's first strike. "The feeling I had at the time was that Cristiano touched the ball. I was passing the ball to him.

"But what's important is that we were able to go on to the next round after a very important win against a tough opponent.

"The importance of being first [in Group H] includes winning the next game, which would allow us to come out of the group undefeated with three wins, and that's what we want.

"We know we will find a very well-organised [South Korea] team ahead of us. Our objective is to think match after match – to win all the ones in the group phase, we still have one ahead of us.

"We have to do our very best because we want to win all the matches."

Santos hopes Portugal can finish the job to top Group H, having won their opening two World Cup games for only the third time – also achieving the feat in 1966 and 2006 in runs to the semi-final stage.

The Portugal head coach saluted his players, while he also revealed that Nuno Mendes will be assessed in "24 hours" after limping off during the first half.

"All our team have a great performance," Santos said. "The game was difficult, our opponent was difficult.

"In the second half, we managed to play as we are used to; despite the fact that the Uruguayan players were playing very well.

"Our players responded with purpose, and we managed to win with fair play. We have a feeling of satisfaction as we can move to the next stage.

"[Two wins from two is] exactly what I wanted for my team. As I said back in Portugal, our team is very united, we have a very good team building, and now we are given the answers to what was asked of us.

"There is still a match to be played; we need to be careful with our considerations. We do want to be first [in Group H], but we are not first yet. As a result, we need to continue improving on our tactics."

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