Football

Godin translates club form to World Cup stage for Uruguay

Defender Godin translates club form with Atletico to World Cup stage with Uruguay

GROUP D

ITALY 0

URUGUAY 1

(Diego Godin 81)

Diego Godin's winning goal against Italy this morning (Singapore time), which sent Uruguay through to the World Cup knockout round, was the latest achievement in a superb season for the 28-year-old Atletico Madrid defender.

Godin's performances at centre back alongside Brazilian Miranda and a number of key headed goals from set-pieces helped Atletico win their first La Liga title in 18 years and reach the final of the Champions League.

He headed the equaliser in Atletico's 1-1 draw at Barcelona that clinched the title on the final day of the campaign and another header against Real Madrid in the final of Europe's elite club competition put them 1-0 up until the dying moments before Real levelled and ran away with the game in extra time.

His 81st-minute goal against the Italians this morning, which secured a 1-0 win and dumped the four-time winners out of the Finals in Brazil, came when he jumped at a corner and the ball ricocheted off his shoulder and arrowed into the net past Gianluigi Buffon.

"I dedicate it to all my teammates because it's a goal for all the players and all the people of Uruguay who cheer for us," said Godin.

"Our work-rate was colossal and our level of confidence was amazing. We really bust a gut in the second half."

Midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro said that the current Uruguay team are capable of at least matching their top-four finish at the 2010 World Cup.

"Our objective is to do that (repeat 2010)," the 25-year-old Corinthians midfielder said.

"Later we'll see, but now it's time to rest and think about our next match."

Uruguay were the surprise of the 2010 tournament in South Africa, where they were beaten in the semi-finals by Holland.

Lodeiro praised the positive spirit among his teammates, insisting the team will be prepared for Colombia in their next match - a Round-of-16 duel at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium.

"We are ready to face any team," he added.

"The first goal for us was to get through. To do it the way we did makes it more satisfying."

STRONG

"We have great players but, more importantly, we are a strong team.

"The base is more or less the same as 2010. We are learning from the mistakes we made then and trying to fix them.

"The key is to stay together and see how far we can go."

Meanwhile, ecstatic Uruguayans are defending their beloved striker Luis Suarez tooth and nail after he allegedly bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during this morning's 1-0 win.

The Liverpool forward's lethal finishing is far more important than his straying teeth, says the small, sleepy agricultural country vying for their third World Cup victory.

"We needed to win, so if you have to hit, you hit. If you have to bite, you bite," said Barbara Giordano, a 26-year-old law student in Montevideo.

"It's the 'Garra Charrua'!" she exclaimed in reference to Uruguay's legendary fighting spirit.

Uruguay, a country of three million people sandwiched between football powerhouses Argentina and Brazil, has a major soft spot for the controversial Suarez.

Some Uruguayans are downplaying - or denying - the biting of Chiellini's shoulder altogether.

"There was no bite, that's what the press says to kill Suarez," said Pablo Dilan, a 38-year-old print shop worker.

"Suarez's mouth slips again," joked leading Uruguayan newspaper El Pais. - Wire Services.

World Cup