Rodrigo Bentancur sets 21st Century World Cup record in 2-0 defeat to Portugal

Uruguay midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur registered a brilliant stat during his country’s 2-0 defeat to Portugal at the World Cup.

The record, which Stats Perform’s South American Twitter account highlighted, demonstrates just how impressive Bentancur was on Monday night.

Per OptaJavier (via Twitter), the Spurs midfielder recorded nineteen ball recoveries throughout the Uruguay – Portugal match. This is the most ever during a World Cup game in the 21st Century, so spans across six tournaments.

But what do ball recoveries mean, I hear you ask? According to the Opta Stats Perform website, “a recovery” is defined as follows:

“Where a player recovers the ball in a situation where neither team has possession. Or, where the ball has been played directly to him by an opponent, thus securing possession for their team.”

Therefore, put simply, Bentancur was absolutely everywhere for Uruguay during their defeat. He was tidying up loose balls, regaining possession, and setting up attacks. Per Whoscored, the Spurs star made the most passes for Uruguay, as well as the joint-most interceptions.

Additionally, Rodrigo Bentancur almost scored the best goal of the World Cup so far. Picking the ball up in his own half, the Uruguayan powered through Portugal’s midfield. On the edge of the box, Bentancur then danced through two more defenders. However, when one-on-one with the keeper, he saw his shot saved.

Despite not scoring that opportunity, Uruguay’s media revelled in Bentancur’s performance.

Rodrigo Bentancur stands out in disappointing Uruguay World Cup showing

On his 53rd cap for Uruguay, national media outlet El Pais explained how Bentancur was a bright spark in an underwhelming game.

Although booked after five minutes – Uruguay’s earliest World Cup yellow since 1986 – Rodrigo Bentancur showed his class.

“He ended up being the best Uruguay player,” wrote El Pais. “His impulses led to the generation of two of the most dangerous chances. One of them, he made a Maradona-like play that goalkeeper Diogo Costa saved.

“He also pushed the team and ended up exhausted by the effort he made.”

The paper also gave their midfielder a seven out of ten. But even though he had a record-breaking game, Bentancur and Uruguay fell to defeat. As a result, they need a win in their final group match to reach the round of 16.

Uruguay face crunch match with Ghana

The winner of Uruguay vs Ghana will essentially reach the knockout stage from Group H. They would go through alongside Portugal, who have already progressed.

For Ghana and Uruguay, though, there is added spice to this fixture. The two countries have history at the World Cup, thanks to a dramatic quarterfinal in 2010.

Back in South Africa, Sulley Muntari gave the Black Stars the lead just before half time. However, Uruguay talisman Diego Forlan equalised with a sublime free kick.

The stalemate prompted extra-time, during which the true drama unfolded. As Ghana looked set to score, Luis Suarez handled the ball on the line. He received a red card, meanwhile, Ghana had a penalty to win the game.

But, heartbreakingly, Asamoah Gyan rattled the bar with his spot-kick, meaning the match went to a shootout. Uruguay ultimately won 4-2 on penalties and went through to the last four. In contrast, Ghana missed the chance to become the first African side to ever reach the semi-finals of a World Cup.

Rodrigo Bentancur and co. will hope that they can seal their World Cup progression in less controversial circumstances on Friday.  

Featured image credit: Getty