With Portugal and Ghana facing off later in the day in Group H, the pressure was on two-time winners – and regular knockout stage contenders – Uruguay to hit the ground running. But they ran into a disciplined South Korean side at Education City Stadium.
After a bright start from South Korea with Heung-min Son – the Tottenham man wearing a protective mask after fracturing an eye socket – the architect of some dangerous moments, Uruguay carved out the first couple of half-chances, with Federico Valverde and Luis Suarez both steering wide.
Hwang Ui-Jo then wasted South Korea's best opening of the half, somehow skying over the bar with the goal gaping just after the half-hour mark. Diego Godin then squandered an even better opportunity for Uruguay, leaping to nod an almost perfect header goalwards, but saw it cannon off the woodwork.
Both teams huffed and puffed after the break, with neither producing the requisite quality in the final third to find the winner, despite Edinson Cavani replacing Suarez on the hour mark for La Celeste.
Valverde struck the woodwork with a tremendous late effort, while Son also fired wide at the crucial moment in stoppage time.