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Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Saturday, 3 July 2010 14:34 UK

World Cup 2010: I have hand of God - Uruguay's Suarez

Uruguay players celebrate beating Ghan

Highlights - Uruguay 1-1 Ghana (4-2 pens)

Uruguay's Luis Suarez said "the 'Hand Of God' now belongs to me" after his goal-line handball helped his country reach the World Cup semi-finals.

The striker punched Adiyah's goal-bound header to deny Ghana what would have proved to be the extra-time winner.

Asamoah Gyan missed the ensuing penalty and Uruguay went on to win a shoot-out.

And referencing Diego Maradona's goal against England in 1986, Suarez said: "Mine is the real 'Hand Of God'. I made the save of the tournament."

While Maradona punched home a goal as Argentina beat England 2-1 in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, saying it had been scored "a little with the hand of God", Suarez reacted to push out a certain goal and then watched as Ghana missed the resultant penalty with the last kick of the extra time.

The Ajax striker was sent off for the handball - meaning he will miss the semi-final against the Netherlands - but Fifa's disciplinary committee is to consider imposing a two-match suspension that would potentially rule him out of the World Cup final.

PAUL FLETCHER'S BLOG

The governing body's disciplinary code gives the committee the option of a longer ban for 'unsportsmanlike conduct', but Suarez insisted he had little option but to use his hand.

"Sometimes in training I play goalkeeper so it was worth it," the 23-year-old said.

"There was no alternative but for me to do that and when they missed the penalty I thought 'It is a miracle and we are alive in the tournament'," added the striker.

"Now we are in the semi-finals although I was very sad because no-one likes to be sent off.

"The celebration afterwards was impressive, but very quiet because nobody gave us a chance but, with courage, we move forward."

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez also insisted that Suarez's actions could not be considered cheating.

"Saying we cheated Ghana is too harsh a word to use. Yes he stuck his hand out but it's not cheating. It was instinctive," he said.

"When there is a handball in the penalty area there is a red card and the player is thrown out of the game.

"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.

In the same situation, there is no chance the Ghana players would have used our hand

John Pantsil

"This is football. There are consequences to that handball and he didn't know that Ghana was going to miss that penalty."

Gyan bravely stepped up to score Ghana's opening spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out, but his side's eventual defeat led to heartbreaking scenes as the striker broke down in tears.

Sebastian Abreu scored the winning penalty after misses by Ghanaian pair John Mensah and Dominic Adiyah, either side of a miss by Uruguayan defender Maxi Pereira.

And Ghana defender John Pantsil was adamant that his team would have resorted to the same tactics as Suarez.

"The goal should have stood rather than the player being sent off. Yes, that is the case," said the Fulham defender.

"In the same situation, there is no chance the Ghana players would have used our hand. In any case, we would have made sure we would clear the ball with our head."

Uruguay's victory saw them advance to a first World Cup semi-final since 1970 and Tabarez hailed his team's "strength and unity" after the dramatic victory.

"I'm emotional. We didn't play well, but we've gone through," said Tabarez. "It seems there's something forcing us on, it must be the strength and unity of these boys. We are very excited.

"I hope the party goes on for three or four days. I am the coach of the team, I'm a pro and even so I lack the necessary calm to carry out an objective analysis of what happened.

Abedi Pele

Ghana exit a 'disaster' for Africa - Abedi Pele

"We achieved our goal but we didn't play as we wanted to. Our rival was extremely tough. We were lucky. Luck is important and I really cannot say much more.

"Those who believe in fate or destiny they might be able to explain it. I don't believe in that.

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

Diego Forlan, who scored Uruguay's equaliser with a stunning free-kick to cancel out Sulley Muntari's opener, added: "Suarez this time, instead of scoring goals, he saved one, I think he saved the game.

"We suffered but now we will be amongst the four best sides in the world. There are no words for that.

"As for the shoot-out, we felt we were going to faint with each penalty."



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see also
Ghana boss proud despite defeat
02 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup quarter-final photos
02 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Tabarez hails mature performance
26 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010


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