UDINE, Italy — Uruguay missed a second-half penalty kick and was held to a 0-0 draw by Spain in a World Cup Group E match today.
Uruguay, which created most of the scoring opportunities, had its chance to win the game in the 71st minute, but Ruben Sosa blasted his penalty kick over the bar.
The penalty was awarded after Francisco Villaroya handled the ball on the goal line.
The exciting group E clash, bringing together the last two teams to see World Cup action, ended goalless despite great efforts by Sosa and Uruguayan captain Enzo Francescoli.
The pair mesmerized the Spanish defense with jinking runs and silky skills but just could not convert them into goals.
Sosa, who had done everything right for more than an hour, wasted all his efforts in the 72nd minute.
Nelson Gutierrez's header from a corner beat Spanish goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta, but Villaroya used his hand on the ball to prevent a goal.
Sosa stepped up to the penalty spot for what should have been an easy winner but instead blasted the ball way over the bar. He held his head in his hands in anguish.
"We pressurized Spain, and it's good that we have one point (for gaining a tie) but we could have had two. It was a bad penalty. I hit the ball too hard," Sosa said after the game.
The result left both teams still in contention in Group E, the tightest-balanced opening round group, which also includes Belgium and South Korea. Belgium defeated South Korea 2-0 on Tuesday and leads the group.
After a hesitant opening few minutes, both teams played a fast, furious game with Spain holding the edge for much of the first half, breaking quickly from defense with long, raking passes.
But the Uruguayan defense held firm, and the Spaniards were unable to convert the few clear chances they created.
In the second half, the Uruguayans dominated clearly. For the game as a whole they had 10 shots on goal to their opponents' three, and they earned six corners to Spain's one.
"We've lost a very good opportunity to beat Spain," Uruguayan Manager Oscar Tabarez said. "Now we'll have to go all out to beat Belgium and South Korea.
"The first match is always difficult, especially when it's between two countries with such rich traditions as these two."
Spanish goalkeeper Zubizarreta was in commanding form and made a number of crucial saves.
It was the first scoreless tie in the 12 World Cup games this year.