By FRANCO PANIZO
Nearly every exit from the World Cup is heartbreaking, but few will be crueler than Ghana's quarterfinal defeat to Uruguay.
After Luis Suarez temporarily saved his team from elimination by clearing a shot off the goal-line with his hands in the final minute of extra time, Asamoah Gyan had the golden opportunity to make Ghana the first African nation to ever reach the semifinals of a World Cup when he stepped up to take his third penalty kick of the tournament.
He missed, smashing his shot off the crossbar and sending the game into penalty kicks. That's where Uruguay came out victorious, winning the shutout, 4-2, for its first semifinal spot in 40 years.
The victory for Uruguay not only crushed the dreams of the entire African continent, it was also the South Americans' first comeback of the tournament.
After falling behind at the end of the first half to a goal from distance by Sulley Muntari, Diego Forlan equalized with a free kick goal in the 55th minute.
Here are the match highlights, as well as from the Brazil-Netherlands match:
NETHERLANDS RALLIES, BEATS BRAZIL 2-1
Trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Netherlands did what most would deem impossible: rally to defeat Brazil.
The Netherlands reached the semifinals with a 2-1 victory that was made possible through an own goal by Felipe Melo and a headed finish by Wesley Sneijder.
Having fallen behind early to a Robinho goal that was assisted by Melo, the Dutch pulled level when the Juventus midfielder nodded a Sneijder cross into his own net in the 53rd minute.
Things got worse for Melo 15 minutes later as he allowed Sneijder to head home easily from inside the six yard box following a corner kick. Melo then followed his two gaffes by getting sent off in the 73rd for stomping on Arjen Robben's leg.
The loss marks the second consecutive World Cup that Brazil was eliminated in the quarterfinals. Brazil was knocked out of the 2006 edition by France in a 1-0 affair.
The Dutch will play Uruguay in the semifinals on July 6 at 2:30 pm.
Here are the match highlights:
What did you think of Friday's matches? Happy to see Uruguay advance? Feeling bad for Gyan, or happy to see him miss that penalty? How big do you think Suarez will be missed vs. the Netherlands? Surprised Brazil lost?
Share your thoughts below.