Suárez frustrates Uruguay in Brazil again after penalty miss

It was a bitter end to the 32-year-old's disappointing season, and added yet another frustrating chapter to his international career in Brazil.

Luis Suarez (centre) walks off the pitch with tears in his eyes after Uruguay is knocked out by Peru via a penalty shootout.   -  AP

Uruguay striker Luis Suarez left the pitch of the Arena Fonte Nova in tears on Saturday after his penalty shootout miss gave underdogs Peru a place at the Copa America semifinals. It was a bitter end to the 32-year-old’s disappointing season, and added yet another frustrating chapter to his international career in Brazil.

The veteran striker failed to score or perform well in both knockout stage matches he played in Brazil, the 0-0 draw with Peru in Salvador and the 2-1 semifinal defeat against the host of the 2013 Confederations Cup in Belo Horizonte.

The striker’s litany of missteps and bad luck associated with Brazil is such that one of Uruguay’s leading newspapers was inspired to run a headline in its sports section on Sunday stating- “Brazil not even on vacations, Luis.”

The veteran often seemed aloof and slower than normal during the current edition of Copa Amşrica, in contrast to his always committed strike partner Edinson Cavani. Some of his poor play can be blamed on a recent right knee surgery that risked Suarez’s participation in the tournament.

Fans at the Fonte Nova in Salvador cheered him after Uruguay’s elimination anyway, but critics wonder whether he should have come to Brazil at all since he didn’t seem to be completely fit.

Suarez left Copa America with only two goals, one in the 4-0 rout of tournament minnow Ecuador and another from the spot in the 2-2 draw against Japan’s young team. He did score once against Peru, but the goal was disallowed by the referee because it was deemed offside.

Read: Coach Oscar Tabarez offers no excuses

The striker’s poorly taken penalty in the shootout was saved by Peru’s Pedro Gallese with his belly. All the other shooters scored, and Peru won 5-4 to face Chile on Wednesday for a place in the July 7 final. The match will take place in Porto Alegre, a city close to Brazil’s border with Uruguay.

Suarez troubles in Brazil began at the 2013 Confederations’ Cup semifinal against the host at the Mineirŗo Stadium. He was anonymous in Uruguay’s 2-1 defeat, while Cavani scored and led the team in chasing the game until the very end.

One year later, at a group stage match of the 2014 World Cup in Natal, Suarez bit the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s 1-0 win and was suspended by soccer governing body FIFA for nine matches. The incident at the Arena das Dunas meant he didn’t even witness the game at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro where his team was eliminated 2-0 by Colombia in the round of 16.

Copa America 2019 was a big chance for the veteran not only to turn around his fortunes in Brazil, but also rise above the criticism he has received at his club Barcelona.

Suarez scored just once in the latest edition of the Champions League, and was one of the most criticized players in the crushing 4-0 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield in the second leg of the semifinals. He was the second top goal scorer of the Spanish league in Barcelona’s title-winning campaign, netting 21, but was largely outshone by Messi, who had 36 goals.

The Uruguayan striker didn’t say much after his team’s elimination, but thanked fans for their support.

“I have to stress the support after the moment I had to live,” Suarez said in a low voice. “It was very sad for me and that support from the crowd and my team-mates is fundamental.” 

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