Darwin Nunez and Uruguay were minutes away from reaching the World Cup last 16, only for a dramatic South Korea comeback to leave hearts broken.
Uruguay went into their final game of Group H knowing that victory for them and anything other than a win for South Korea would be enough to progress.
Diego Alonso’s side took on Ghana in Al-Wakrah, while South Korea faced the already qualified Portugal at the same time in Ar Rayyan.
And Uruguay looked to be cruising to a place in the last 16, with Giorgian de Arrascaeta’s quickfire double in the first half giving them a commanding lead as Ghana struggled.
As the second half wore on, Alonso withdrew Nunez, De Arrascaeta and Luis Suarez, which may have been a fatal decision from the manager.
South Korea and Portugal were poised at 1-1, with Kim Young-gwon cancelling out Ricardo Horta’s opener, only for heroics from Wolves striker Hwang Hee-chan in stoppage time.
His goal in the 91st minute was quickly relayed to those within the stands elsewhere, with Suarez in tears as he watched on from the bench, unable to help his country in what is almost certain to be his last World Cup.
With Nunez already off the pitch, the likes of Edinson Cavani and Maxi Gomez were left to pursue the goal needed to leapfrog South Korea on goal difference.
Ghana goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi pulled off a series of stunning stops late on, though, with the game ending at 2-0 which, with South Korea 2-1 victors, was not enough to secure progress.
Nunez becomes the first Liverpool player to be knocked out of the World Cup, coming in particularly cruel circumstances.
Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands), Ibrahima Konate (France), Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold (England) are already through, while Alisson and Fabinho (Brazil) are expected to book their place on Friday night.