The Liverpool striker, who served a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in 2013, clashed with Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in the 79th minute and appeared to bite his shoulder — but as the referee didn’t see it, play wasn’t stopped and it remains to be seen what retrospective action will be taken.
Suarez could face suspension if Fifa disciplinary officials uphold Chiellini’s protests, and the incident cast a shadow over a hard-fought win for the South Americans.
Godin rose highest to nudge home an 81st-minute corner to end the resistance of the Italians, who had played with 10 men since Claudio Marchisio’s sending-off on the hour.
The dramatic ending came in stark contrast to an abysmal first period of a match the Uruguayans needed to win in order to progress along with Costa Rica.
Despite the onus being on them to attack, Oscar Tabarez’s side barely managed to muster a single chance of note in a dismal first half which was largely controlled by the Italians.
Suarez, clearly struggling for fitness, was largely anonymous for the opening half-hour but had his first chance in the 33rd minute when he nipped in behind the Italian defence and saw his shot from a tight angle flapped away by Buffon, who also saved the follow-up from Nicolas Lodeiro.
As the second half got under way there were few signs of urgency on Uruguay’s part, although Edinson Cavani demanded a penalty after falling theatrically in the box under the challenge of Leonardo Bonucci.
The South Americans gradually started to press and had their first real chance in the 58th minute when Rodriguez played a sharp one-two with Suarez, cutting into the box from the left but splaying his shot wide.
Moments later, the Italians were reduced to 10 men when Marchisio was sent off for a careless, chopping foul on Egidio Rios.
But despite the extra man advantage, Uruguay continued to struggle to create openings.
The golden opportunity the Uruguayans were hoping for arrived in the 65th minute when Cavani sent Suarez through but Buffon got down to his right superbly to palm away his shot.
But the Uruguayan support exploded into life when Godin grabbed the goal they needed to send his side through to the knockout stages as group runners-up.
ITALY: Buffon, Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli, De Sciglio, Marchisio, Pirlo, Verratti (Thiago Motta 75), Darmian, Immobile (Cassano 71), Balotelli (Parolo 46).
URUGUAY: Muslera, Caceres, Gimenez, Godin, Pereira (Stuani 63), Gonzalez, Arevalo Rios, Rodriguez (Ramirez 78), Lodeiro (Maxi Pereira 46), Cavani, Suarez.
Referee: Marco Rodriguez (Mexico).