18 November 2009 – Uruguay qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup

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Uruguay has become the last of the 32 participating countries to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. At a play-off game in Montevideo’s “Estadio Centenario” against Costa Rica, the fourth-ranked team in the North and Central America group, the final 1-1 tie was all that Uruguay needed, after a 1-0 win in Costa Rica on 14 November, to earn a spot at its 11th World Cup. Uruguay’s qualification was on the line up until the last minute. After scoring the goal that put it in the lead in minute 70, Costa Rica scored a tying goal only four minutes later, and fought hard in the final minutes to land a winning goal that would have spelled the end for Uruguay. The final whistle came as a salvation, and marked the end of a gruelling qualification round that was an emotional roller coaster ride for Uruguayan fans. So it wasn’t surprising that the end of the game was followed by massive celebration. “¡Hay que saltar, hay que saltar, el que no salta no va al Mundial!” (You have to jump, you have to jump, if you don’t jump you can’t go to the World Cup!) chanted the crowds who took to the streets of Montevideo to dance and party until almost dawn. Uruguay failed to qualify for the last World Cup four years ago, after losing another play-off game against Australia.

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