Suárez in biting controversy

LONDON - Luis Suárez was at the centre of another biting controversy in Natal after appearing to sink his teeth into Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder moments before Diego Godin’s header sent Uruguay into the World Cup knock-out stages.

Suárez, who served a 10-match suspension for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in 2013, clashed with Italy defender Chiellini in the Italian penalty area before reacting angrily and appearing to bite the Juventus player’s left shoulder.

Chiellini complained bitterly to Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez – who had earlier dismissed Italy’s Claudio Marchisio for a studs-up foul -- showing his bare shoulder to the official, but no action was taken and, with the Italians still furious, Godin headed Uruguay’s winner two minutes later to send the 2006 world champions out of the competition.

The recriminations for Suárez are likely to be severe, however, with the Liverpool forward having twice previously served lengthy bans for biting opponents.

Suárez was also suspended for biting Otman Bakkal during his time with Ajax and, having denied Ghana a place in the World Cup semi-finals four years ago following a deliberate handball on the goal line, the forward has now landed himself in controversy for a second successive tournament.

With Uruguay’s goal difference inferior to that of the Italians, the South American champions knew that only a victory would be enough to secure qualification to the knock-out stages.

But in a dire first-half typified by cynical challenges by both teams, Uruguay’s desperate need for three points was not reflected by their negative approach.

The tone for the game was set as early as the second minute when Egidio Arevalo left Balotelli on the ground by slyly standing on the Italian forward’s ankle following a routine challenge.

More brutality followed. Andrea Barzagli and Andrea Pirlo both treated Luis Suárez to some Italian physicality, while Uruguay full-back Alvaro Pereira also displayed an appetite for leaving a stray boot in whenever he tackled an opponent.

If Uruguay’s belligerent approach was designed to get under Balotelli’s skin, it certainly had the desired effect which, for those accustomed to watching the forward during his time at Manchester City, was no surprise.

Having grown tired of being targeted by the Uruguayans, Balotelli was booked by Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez after catching Pereira on the back of the head with his knee in an ill-judged high tackle.

The yellow card earned Balotelli a suspension from Italy’s next game and, from that point on, he was an accident waiting to happen.

And after attempting to win a free-kick by feigning injury following a fair challenge by Diego Godin, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli dispatched Marco Parolo to warm-up on the touchline, with the Parma player replacing Balotelli at half-time.

Even without the woeful Balotelli, Italy struggled to make an impression going forward in the second-half, with Prandelli’s team caught between chasing the goal which would leave Uruguay with a mountain to climb and ensuring nothing was conceded at the other end.

It is unlikely to be anything more than a footnote, however, in a game that has seen Suárez’s reputation tarnished yet again.

In another Group D match, England ended their World Cup campaign with a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica.

England had their moments going forward but lacked composure. Daniel Sturridge had two excellent chances to win it - the sort of chances that a top class international forward would have buried. – Agencies

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