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Uruguay 1-1 Ghana (4-2)

Tabarez: Suarez didn't cheat

July 2, 2010
By Soccernet staff

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez defended Luis Suarez against accusations of cheating after his handball contributed to the country beating Ghana in dramatic circumstances in the World Cup quarter-final.

Luis Suarez handballs amid chaotic scenes in the box
GettyImagesLuis Suarez handballs amid chaotic scenes in the box

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Diego Forlan responded to Sulley Muntari's opener to take Friday night's game into extra-time in Johannesburg, but a tense encounter sprang to life in the final seconds when Suarez was dismissed for a handball on the line, giving Asamoah Gyan the chance to send make Ghana the first African team to reach the semi-finals.

But the striker, who had scored two penalties previously in the tournament, rattled the bar from 12 yards and Ghana went on to lose the shoot-out as John Mensah and Dominic Adiyiah missed, allowing Sebastian Abreu to chip in an audacious effort and send Uruguay through.

Suarez was pictured celebrating as he made his way down the tunnel but Tabarez insisted that the forward's crime had been dealt with by the penalty award and red card, and that he should not be accused of being a cheat.

"When there is a handball in the penalty area there is a red card and the player is thrown out of the game," Tabarez said. "Saying we cheated Ghana is too harsh a word to use. We also abide by what the referee did - it could have been a mistake. Yes he stuck his hand out but it's not cheating - I don't think it's fair to say that.

"I think it was instinctive. The player instinctively reacted and was thrown out of the match and he can't play the next match. What else do you want?

"Is Suarez also to blame for Ghana missing the penalty? We try to be dignified and if we lose a match we look for the reasons for it. You shouldn't look to third parties. This is football. There are consequences to that handball and he didn't know that Ghana was going to miss that penalty.''

Tabarez's side now face Netherlands in the semi-final and the coach, who has taken the country to the final four for the first time since 1970, insists there is more to come from his team.

"I am very emotional," Tabarez said. "We didn't play well, but we have gone through. The players are very strong and have a strong team spirit.

"We have a little time to prepare for the match against Holland but we are going there to win."

Forlan was wrapped up in the drama of the occasion following Uruguay's penalty victory, saying: "When he [Gyan] hit the bar it was like ... then it was penalties. It's unbelievable what you have to feel. You have a lot of feelings and then we won.

"It's unbelievable the team, the way we work together and the way we're doing everything and now we're into the last four."