Sunday, 23 September, 2018

Uruguay punish sluggish Russian Federation to top Group A

Jose Giminez Giminez scored Uruguay's first goal at this year's World Cup the winner in the 1-0 victory against Egypt
Jennie Wade | 28 June, 2018, 16:45

Denis Cheryshev's own goal compounded Russia's misery 13 minutes later, with Smolnikov's dismissal - for a second yellow card issued after a foul on Edinson Cavani prior to half time - all but ending hopes of a comeback.

Godin was denied a goal to cap a fine individual performance when Akinfeev somehow kept out his 90th-minute bullet header, but Cavani was on hand to stab home the rebound and seal the win. This prediction was based on the free-flowing football that Russian Federation had played till then, and the holes that were evident in the Uruguayan midfield.

Cavani could have added a third just after the hour, but the Paris Saint-Germain striker elected to go down under pressure from Sergei Ignashevich rather than get a shot off, failing to fool referee Malang Diedhiou. Gimenez scored in the team's opening match of the tournament, a 1-0 victory over Egypt.

Nearly every set-piece was delivered too long, and there were so many key sloppy passes - like Yuri Gazinskiy's to begin the passage of play that led to Suarez scoring from a free-kick - or Mario Fernandes' when for once early in the second half Uruguay looked like they might be opened up.

Luiz Suarez broke the deadlock in the 10th minute through a spectacular freekick, They doubled their lead through an own goal from Cheryshev in 23th minute.

The party continued inside the stadium as the fans flocked in and made an almighty racket, before Russia's positivity was punctured within 10 minutes by Luis Suarez.

With an eye on the next game, Cheryshev - easily Russia's best player on the pitch - was replaced by defender Mario Fernandes, who did offer some stability to the defence.

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There was even finally a goal for Cavani right at the end. More recently, the team finished fourth in South Africa in 2010 and made the round of 16 in Brazil four years ago. "I like how my team played after we lost one player".

Because Russia had the advantage in goal differential from its first two group matches, it would have won the group with a draw.

Speaking after the game, and quoted by Russia Today, Cherchesov acknowledged that the Uruguayans were far superior to the Russians' previous World Cup opponents, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. "Uruguay is a team on another level", he said, explaining: "Today the speed was different and the characteristics of the opponent were different". The decision was confirmed after a video review.

Their struggles so far mean a shake-up in midfield is likely, with Sampdoria's Lucas Torreira a certain inclusion after impressing as a substitute against the Saudis.

Russian Federation exceeded those rock-bottom expectations by beating Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Written off as no-hopers before the World Cup, Russia head to the Volga River city of Samara for a game which will see the victor secure top spot in Group A following the elimination of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Current Group B leaders Spain play Morocco, who are already eliminated. Both Spain and Portugal had a goal difference of plus-1, but Spain scored six goals in its three group matches while Portugal had five.

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