Copa America 2019

Nothing is off limits for Suarez

Uruguay's Edinson Cavani heading past Chile goalkeeper Gabriel Arias for the only goal of the Copa America match at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Monday. Both teams made the quarter-finals. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Uruguay's Edinson Cavani heading past Chile goalkeeper Gabriel Arias for the only goal of the Copa America match at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Monday. Both teams made the quarter-finals. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Star even accuses Chile 'keeper of handball as Uruguay secure 'easier' q-final with 1-0 win

RIO DE JANEIRO • Luis Suarez is a player who has always polarised opinion.

One of football's most fearsome forwards, the Barcelona star is known for two sides to his game - uncanny predatory instincts in front of goal and a willingness to do anything to secure the victory - even if it means employing gamesmanship.

On Monday, the Uruguay international took his pantomime villain role to the next level as his team beat Chile 1-0 in the Copa America tournament by appealing for a handball - by La Roja's goalkeeper.

With his side searching for a goal against the defending champions to earn them top spot in Group C, Suarez raced into the box, only for Gabriel Arias to palm away his strike for a corner.

But the 32-year-old seemed to momentarily forget that goalkeepers are supposed to save shots with their hands as he appealed for a penalty, gesticulating to the referee by pointing to his own hand at the Maracana.

IN A GOOD PLACE

In some moments, we played well, in other moments less well, but always with the (right) attitude and mentality, we were able to snatch the game.

EDINSON CAVANI, Uruguay striker, on his team doing enough to win.

The antics did not stop there as he also gestured for Chile defender Gonzalo Jara to be booked for tackling a pitch invader in footage that went viral on social media.

It was five years to the day when he infamously bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in a group-stage decider at the 2014 World Cup, which saw him banned for four months, and netizens were quick to seize on the evening's incidents, dubbing them as "peak Suarez".

His strike partner Edinson Cavani later grabbed the only goal of the game - his 48th for his country - which saw the 15-time Copa champions finish ahead of runners-up Chile, who now face Colombia, to set up a quarter-final tie with Peru on Saturday in Salvador.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker felt the victory had "showed a good image in the group" for La Celeste, adding: "In some moments, we played well, in other moments less well, but always with the (right) attitude and mentality, we were able to snatch the game.

"We wanted to win the group without knowing what would come next, to continue with this attitude."

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez also praised his players for "managing a little bit better than our opponents" despite being "on the limit". He said: "It was a keenly contested match with few spaces. One extra day of rest is useful, it's important."

  • QUARTER-FINAL LINE-UP 

  • TOMORROW 

    Brazil v Paraguay 

    FRIDAY 

    Venezuela v Argentina 
    Colombia v Chile 

    SATURDAY 

    Uruguay v Peru

However, his counterpart Reinaldo Rueda was more downbeat at having to play a trickier opponent in the Colombians, the only team to have a 100 per cent record so far, on Friday.

The Chile coach, who was booed by his own fans, said: "Undoubtedly, it was a very close game. We knew about our opponents' quality, with a well-defined system, a difficult style in terms of their aerial game.

"We lost, that's tough on the players' motivation."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2019, with the headline 'Nothing is off limits for Suarez'. Print Edition | Subscribe