South Korea coach Paulo Bento was pleased with his side’s performance in their goalless draw with Uruguay and urged supporters not to focus too much on the fitness of star striker Son Heung-min.
Tottenham forward Son’s availability was in doubt until just before kick-off due to a fractured eye socket sustained earlier this month but – aided by a facemask – he played the full game, producing occasional flashes in a largely subdued display.
His ineffectiveness was replicated by the other attacking stars on show – Uruguay’s strikeforce of Darwin Nunez and Luis Suarez also failing to make any meaningful impact in a drab encounter in World Cup Group H.
Uruguay came closest to finding a winner with both Diego Godin and Federico Valverde hitting the woodwork, the latter in the closing minutes.
Of Son, Bento said: "Son is a player that up until his injury had continuous rhythm. And then, in one of the last games in the Champions League, he had a serious injury and was inactive for a long period of time. He was only reintegrated in the last few days.
"After the injury, it’s natural that it will take him some time to re-adapt.
"But overall, I thought our team had a good performance and we focus too much on one player. We, as coaches, value all the elements of the team."
Bento was particularly pleased that his side were able to match Uruguay’s levels of aggression, adding: "That was definitely one of the positives. We knew our opponent played intense football and we needed to up our game and we managed to do that in the first half, in particular.
"Of course, our performance diminished in the second half, but we tried to maintain that level of aggression."
Uruguay boss Diego Alonso fended off criticism of his team’s cautious approach, pointing out his starting XI was full of attacking intent.
"We had three forwards on the pitch, three midfielders that score goals and full-backs that like to get forward," he said.
"In the first 20 minutes, we could not pressure South Korea and we had to adjust. After that, the second half was different and we were better. I liked a lot of things the players did."
Valverde was named man of the match for a typically all-action display but felt Uruguay left it too late to find their rhythm.
The Real Madrid midfielder said: "In the first half, South Korea moved the ball very well and we struggled to put any pressure on them. In the second half, we played very well although there were too many balls passed backwards by the midfielders, including me, when we should’ve brought it forward.
"Towards the end, we played in a courageous way and played our football, creating chances. You have to take your chances but, unfortunately, we didn’t score."