By Michael Place
NATAL, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Diego Godin scored a late winner as Uruguay progressed to the World Cup knockout stage with a pulsating 1-0 victory over 10-man Italy here on Tuesday.
The result at the Arena das Dunas stadium sent the Azzurri packing from the tournament and set-up a round of 16 clash for La Celeste against the winner of Group C on June 28.
Italy's chances suffered a crushing blow when midfielder Claudio Marchisio was shown a red card for his rash challenge on Egidio Arevalo just before the hour.
The dismissal handed Uruguay control and Godin drove the dagger into Italian hearts nine minutes from time after a corner kick deflected in off his shoulder.
Italy have now failed to make the second round in each of the past two World Cups after winning the tournament for a fourth time in 2006.
Needing only a draw to progress to the last 16, Azzurri manager Cesare Prandelli made four changes to the team that lost 1-0 to Costa Rica in Recife.
Thiago Motta, Antonio Candreva, Daniele De Rossi and Ignazio Abate were replaced by Leonardo Bonucci, Marco Verratti, Mattia De Sciglio and Ciro Immobile.
The alterations allowed Italy to adopt the 3-5-2 formation used successfully by Juventus in Italy's Serie A.
It was a return to Italy's conservative instincts and a clear nod to the threat of Luis Suarez, with Prandelli seeking to starve the Liverpool forward of space.
Italy controlled the tempo early with Andrea Pirlo, Marco Verratti and Marchisio combining well in midfield.
Pirlo had his side's first clear chance when he forced a finger-tip save from Fernando Muslera from a dipping free-kick.
Uruguay responded in kind when Alvaro Pereira snuck in behind the defence and crossed for Edinson Cavani, who shot wide while under duress.
Mario Balotelli showed his penchant for ill discipline when he was booked for a rash challenge on Pereira, his second caution of the tournament.
Italy looked more fluent as the first-half progressed. Verratti, sitting deep alongside Pirlo, was particularly dangerous with his pace and fancy footwork.
Immobile's first chance came when De Sciglio's crossed from the left but the Borrussia Dortmund signing badly missed the target with his left foot volley.
Despite Italy's early momentum Uruguay looked ever-threatening on the counterattack.
Suarez broke clear on goal after being played in by Nicolas Lodeiro, but the striker's shot was blocked by Buffon. The Azzurri captain then followed up with another save after Lodeiro attempted to smash in the rebound.
Uruguay emerged from the interval with renewed verve. Cavani had a penalty shout waved away after he claimed to be held by Bonucci and Christian Rodriguez shot wide after a one-two with Suarez.
Having already taken the initiative, Uruguay were handed a major boost with Marchisio given his marching orders just before the hour.
It was all the midfielder deserved after his crude studs-up challenge on Arevalo.
As expected, the dismissal prompted Italy to sit back and afford Uruguay more time on the ball.
The Azzurri had Buffon to thank after he denied Suarez with a stunning reflex save.
The Uruguay No. 9 fired in an angled shot that looked goal-bound, but Buffon was equal to the task, swatting the ball away with his right hand.
La Celeste finally made the breakthrough when their captain Godin sent the ball into the bottom corner.