Johannesburg, Jul 3 (DPA): Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez believes his side has not cheated its way to the semi-finals of the World Cup after defeating Ghana in a penalty shootout at Soccer City.
Ghana missed a glorious chance to win the game with the last kick of the match in extra-time, when the Black Stars were awarded a penalty after Luis Suarez was red-carded for blatantly handling the ball on the goalline.
However, Asamoah Gyan hit the bar from the subsequent penalty kick and Uruguay went on to win the shootout 4-2.
"When there's a handball in the penalty area, there is a red card and the player is sent off. To say we cheated Ghana out of victory is too harsh, we abide by the decisions of the referee," said Tabarez.
"Yes he stuck his hand out, that's not cheating, I don't like that word, I don't think its fair."
Tabarez argued that Suarez's actions were instinctive and that the striker had already received his punishment by being sent off by referee Olegario Benquerenca.
"These are the circumstances of the game nothing more, or is Suarez also responsible for missing the penalty?" he asked.
"There are consequences for Suarez handling the ball, he didn't know that Ghana were going to miss the penalty."
While Ghanaians and much of Africa were coming to terms with a shattering defeat, Tabarez had a word for the people of Uruguay who were celebrating a first semi-final place since 1970.
"Football is essential to my country. Many celebrating on the streets have never lived a moment like this," he said.
"After 40 years of course they are going to celebrate. I hope that they celebrate for three or four days."
Sebastian Abreu sealed the shootout win for Uruguay with a cheeky chip over Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson, a shot that Tabarez described as "class".
"We still haven't lost a match at this World Cup. We have to attach a lot of importance to this," he added.