Uruguay book last 16 spot with win over Saudi Arabia

Uruguay book last 16 spot with win over Saudi Arabia
Carlos Sanchez (L) of Uruguay in action against Salman Al-Faraj (R) of Saudi Arabia during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group A preliminary round soccer match between Uruguay and Saudi Arabia in Rostov-On-Don, Russia, 20 June 2018.

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Jun 20, 2018. 18:55

Uruguay have advanced into the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup after claiming a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia at the Rostov Arena on Wednesday evening.

The result confirms that ‘La Celeste’ and host nation Russia will advance from Group A, while the ‘Green Falcons’ and Egypt have both been eliminated.

It was a far-from-convincing victory for Uruguay, but they dominated the encounter and were worthy winners on the day.

Saudi Arabia enjoyed a promising opening 20 minutes in which they held the South American attack at bay, and even produced a few half-chances of their own at the other end.

However, they fell behind at the midway point of the first half. A corner kick from Uruguay’s left flank was missed in mid-air by goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais and Luis Suarez marked his 100th cap with a simple finish to make it 1-0.

The Asian side almost came up with a fine reply in the 26th minute, as Hattan Bahebri left fly from long range and forced Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera into palming the ball over the crossbar for a corner kick.

Saudi Arabia suffered a further blow late in the first half when midfielder Taisir Al-Jassim succumbed to injury and was replaced by Housain Al-Mogahwi.

Uruguay offer the first threat on goal in the second half, with Suarez shooting on goal direct from a free kick in the 51st minute, but this time Al-Owais produced a solid save to keep the score at 1-0.

‘La Celeste’ made a double change just before the hour mark as they tried to spark their attack into life, with manager Oscar Tabarez sending on Lucas Torreira and Diego Luxalt, and they soon missed a great chance as Carlos Sanchez failed to hit the target after meeting a great cross from Edinson Cavani.

The rest of the match fizzled out, with Saudi Arabia unable to really threaten an equaliser in the dying minutes.

Uruguay will wrap up their Group A campaign with a match against Russia on Monday which will decide who tops the standings, while the ‘wooden spoon’ will be at stake when the Saudis take on Egypt at the same time.

Uruguay (1) 1 (Suarez 23’)
Saudi Arabia 0

Uruguay: Muslera, Varela, Gimenez, Godin, Caceres, Sánchez (Nandez 82’), Vecino (Torreiro 59’), Bentancur, Rodriguez (Laxalt 59’), Suarez, Cavani

Saudi Arabia: Al-Owais, Al-Breik, Os. Hawsawi, Ali Al Bulaihi, Al-Shahrani, Bahebri (Kanno 75’), Otayf, Al-Faraj, Al-Jassim (Al-Moghawi 44’), Al-Dawsari, Al-Muwallad (Al-Sahlawi 78’)

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