Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Suarez strikes again as Uruguay thump 10-man Russian Federation

Heading in the right direction Heading in the right direction
Rita Gibson | 28 June, 2018, 03:04

Slowly but surely Uruguay are picking up pace at the World Cup and there's a belief that they can go far in this summer's tournament.

The hosts had confounded those who predicted a group stage exit with resounding victories over Saudi Arabia and Egypt, there was still a question mark over how they would perform when they faced stronger opposition.

Uruguay, controlling possession and playing the ball around confidently, exposed the hosts for what they are - the lowest-ranked team in this World Cup. Akinfeev makes the save to prevent a header Godin finding the net, but Cavani was on hand to bundle home the rebound. Not because of selfishness, but because they contribute a lot. A high-octane start to the tournament had come at a small price and Cherchesov took no risks: Aleksandr Golovin, their influential playmaker, has a yellow card to his name and was left on the bench; full-backs Mario Fernandes and Yury Zhirkov were rested. "We wanted to play the same we had before, only better".

Uruguay have finished as first round group winners for just the fifth time, having done so previously in 1930, 1950, 1954 and most recently in 2010. Russian Federation were frayed in all areas of the pitch and, even though they manufactured a couple of half-openings after the interval, they could have lost by more. - Who is going through?

It was Suarez's seventh goal in three World Cups, while it was only a third for Cavani.

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Uruguay are the first side to win all three of their group games without conceding a single goal since Argentina in 1998 (seven goals scored, none conceded).

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For Uruguay's demanding coach Oscar Tabarez, whose side had not hit top gear in their previous two matches, it was a case of job done - even if there was certainly no cause for celebration. Gimenez scored in the team's opening match of the tournament, a 1-0 victory over Egypt. Suarez looks sharper, and it was his smart reaction to Smolnikov's mistake that led to the free kick from which he opened the scoring.

Birthday boy Rodrigo Bentancur, plying his trade for Italian champions Juventus, should have put the tie to bed in the 29th minute but the promising midfielder's close range effort was blocked by the legs of Igor Akinfeev.

Uruguay's patience and perseverance paid off as it struck thrice to silence Russian Federation, but not the boisterous home crowd at the Samara Arena.

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