Nothing could separate Uruguay and South Korea in their World Cup opener in Group H despite plenty of attacking quality on show in Qatar.
In front of a vibrant crowd at the Education City Stadium, the South Koreans frustrated Uruguay but did not create many clear-cut opportunities.
Their best fell to Hwang Ui-jo, who fired over the bar in the first half, before Uruguay captain Diego Godin headed a corner against the post.
Hwang stood with his head in hands afterwards, while team-mates fell to their knees in disbelief, all in front of a group of South Korean fans behind the goal, who were in fine voice throughout.
South Korea had controlled most of the first half but Uruguay began to dominate as the game wore on and they almost won it in the final minute of normal time when Federico Valverde’s long-range effort crashed off the post.
There was one last chance for Tottenham striker Son Heung-min – South Korea’s star man – but he dragged his shot wide, much to the relief of the Uruguayan supporters.
The draw leaves Group H wide open, with many seeing it as a three-way battle for qualification to the knockout stages between Uruguay, South Korea and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
Son and Nunez miss chances in competitive draw
The atmosphere around the stadium beforehand was fairly subdued but after kick-off there was relentless noise from a few hundred South Korean fans in one corner.
It was their players who took control of the game in the first half, playing some good build-up football and testing the Uruguayan defence from wide areas.
Son was often isolated on the wing but when he did have an occasion to run into space, he beat two players and whipped in a dangerous cross.
He was found on the edge of the box shortly into the second half too but Uruguay’s Jose Gimenez made a crucial sliding challenge to deny him a shot.
Son was a threat only occasionally but the crowd often rose to their feet as their voices lifted in anticipation for what he could potentially produce – and he nearly came good in the final moments when he dragged an effort wide.
Uruguay’s game plan was clear. They looked to play over the top of South Korea’s defence at any opportunity, with Liverpool forward Darwin Nunez a threat on the counter-attack with his pace.
Real Madrid’s Valverde almost got on the end of a long ball from Gimenez, while Nunez should have connected with a cross that came in from the right.
As the game wore on, Uruguay became more dangerous – Nunez broke away down the left but couldn’t find a team-mate, moments before manager Diego Alonso used his wildcard with the introduction of former Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani.
Cavani looked lively, almost connecting with Nunez’s fizzing shot, which flew just wide of the post, but the South Korean defence held firm for a point which could prove vital in a competitive Group H.
By: Kwaku Oduro