Uruguay defender Diego Godin and midfielder Federico Valverde both hit the woodwork as the South Americans were held to a 0-0 draw by South Korea in their opening World Cup Group H game on Thursday.

Wearing a black mask to protect a facial fracture, Son Heung-min started for the South Koreans, yet it was team mate Hwang Ui-jo who came closest to breaking the deadlock, but he scooped his shot over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

The best chance of a pulsating first half fell to Uruguay captain Godin, whose glancing header from a corner hit the foot of the left-hand post just before the break.

Valverde fired a stinging shot in the final minute of regulation time that hit the top of the post as the two sides battled to a stalemate in front of a crowd of 41,663, with group rivals Portugal set to meet Ghana later in the evening.

Uruguay's first sight of goal came in the 19th minute through Federico Valverde, who connected with Jose Maria Gimenez's pass and took a touch before firing a half-volley towards goal, but his ambitious attempt went just over the bar.

The South Americans had begun to find their footing when South Korea, having been patient so far, disrupted their rhythm and launched a counter-attack from a Uruguay corner before the half-hour mark.

Son Heung-min picked up the ball on the left flank and cut inside, skipping past two Uruguay defenders before curling a right-footed effort towards goal, but left back Mathias Olivera was able to clear it away.

South Korea should have taken the lead in the 34th minute when Moon-hwan Kim fizzed the ball into the penalty area and into the path of Hwang in front of goal, but the forward could not keep his composure and sent it over the crossbar.

The closest Uruguay came to scoring in the first half was just before the break, when centre back Godin rose highest to power a header from Valverde's corner but it bounced off the left post and away from goal.

Gimenez made a crucial tackle to deny Son five minutes after the restart after a flowing move from South Korea, while Jung Woo-young blocked midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur's powerful strike at the other end.

Uruguay saw more of the ball but found few chances to break through the South Korean defence until the closing stages, when Valverde unleashed a thunderbolt in the final minute of regulation time that struck the top of the post.

Follow every game from the 2022 FIFA World Cup via live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, or watch live on RTÉ Television and RTÉ Player

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