Fede Valverde earned his first victory while wearing the Uruguay captain’s armband this Tuesday, as the Celeste defeated South Korea 2-1 in Seoul. The truth is that the home side were the better team and were unlucky to have two second-half goals ruled out by VAR, but Valverde and co. won’t care as they end this mini tour of Asia with a draw (1-1 in Japan) and today’s victory.
There were five changes to caretaker coach Marcelo Broli’s Uruguay line-up, but Valverde once again started and captained the team as the No.10 in a 4-2-3-1. Just seven minutes in, the Real Madrid man smashed a typically fierce volley at goal, but it was well saved. Seeing Valverde in the No.10 across these two games has been interesting for this reason, as he has been able to get more shots off from the D of the penalty area and has been problematic for the defences of Japan and South Korea in this sense.
Valverde also created a big problem for South Korea with his 10th minute corner kick, beautifully swung in for Sebastián Coates to head in. Interestingly, Valverde hasn’t taken a corner kick for Real Madrid since 2019. Perhaps he should take more…
After taking the lead, Uruguay then lost control of the game and an equaliser seemed inevitable. The South Americans were lucky to go in with the lead at the break, but didn’t improve and a mistake from Girona’s Santiago Bueno helped Hwang In-beom score to make it 1-1 in the 51st minute.
Matías Vecino turned in a rebound from a Uruguay freekick on 63 minutes, scoring what would turn out to be the winning goal very much against the run of play. Despite pushing and pushing, South Korea couldn’t find an equaliser that would count on the scoreboard. Even though Jürgen Klinsmann’s side had the ball in the back of the net twice, VAR intervened both times to rule the goals out – the first time taking a ridiculous five minutes and 50 seconds to do so.
And so, Uruguay held on and Fede Valverde has now captained his national team to a victory, wearing the armband for the first two times in his career on this Asian tour. He played the 90 minutes in both games, so let’s see how fatigued he’ll be when he returns to Madrid.