Luis Suarez kept his teeth to himself and let his boots do the talking as he scored the only goal in an otherwise drab 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia. The result saw Uruguay book its passage to the Round of 16, right behind host nation Russia.
The Saudis meanwhile, enjoyed the dubious distinction of becoming the second team to be eliminated from the 2018 World Cup, following Morocco’s loss to Portugal in Group B action earlier in the day
Suarez goal ends Salah’s chance of World Cup comeback
After spurning a number of gilt-edged chances in Uruguay’s opener, a 1-0 win over Egypt, Suarez looked sharper from the outset against the Saudis and had an early effort blocked by center back Osama Hawsawi.
The Barcelona striker snatched the game’s only goal in the 23rd minute, as Carlos Sanchez’s corner delivery found him unmarked inside the six, perfectly teeing Suarez up for the simplest of left-footed volleys.
Luis Suarez taps it home!
The ball lands at his feet on the corner and he taps it home to give Uruguay a 1-0 lead. pic.twitter.com/gsBC1qFq5Y
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 20, 2018
The goal distinguished Suarez, who made headlines four years ago for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during a Group Stage match, as the first Uruguay player to score at three different World Cups.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 20, 2018
Suarez came close to doubling his tally in the second half, forcing a diving save from Saudi keeper Mohammed Al-Owais with a 50th-minute deflected free kick. Strike partner, Edinson Cavani also spurned a second-half opportunity, stealing his way past a cloud of Saudi defenders and breaking into the box, only to fire his effort straight at Al-Owais.
Suarez’s goal and Uruguay’s win also effectively ended Egypt’s hopes of fighting its way back into contention for a berth in the Round of 16, meaning Mohamed Salah’s World Cup looks set to end after just three matches.
Maybe Saudi Arabia isn’t the worst team at the World Cup?
Saudi Arabia made rather a better account of itself today. While the Green Falcons created little in terms of genuine goal threat, they were surprisingly dominant in possession and had a better rate of pass completion than Uruguay, raising the question that maybe they weren’t the worst team in this World Cup after all?
Uruguay and Russia to fight for top spot in Group A
While Uruguay has done just enough to get past two lackluster opponents in its two Group Stage wins, there’s a sense that we haven’t seen the best of the South American side, that is one of just five countries to have won the World Cup more than once.
While Russia has smashed its opponents, racking up eight goals in the process, putting five goals past the Saudis and three past an Egypt side carrying an injured Mohamed Salah is one thing. But scoring on an Uruguayan side anchored by the experienced defensive duo of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, who are club teammates at Atletico Madrid, may prove an altogether different affair.
The question is, has Russia peaked too early, while the more experienced South Americans have largely kept their powder dry up until now? It does set up next Monday’s clash between the two on the final matchday of Group A, as a potentially intriguing affair.
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