Sports

Uruguay punish sluggish Russia to top Group A

Uruguay punish sluggish Russia to top Group A

Edinson Cavani became just the second player to score a goal in three separate World Cup tournaments for Uruguay (2010, 2014 and 2018) after his strike partner Luis Suarez.

Things went from bad to worse for the tournament hosts when they were reduced to 10 men when Igor Smolnikov picked up his second yellow card after 36 minutes.

The lead was quickly doubled in the 23rd minute, when Diego Laxalt unleashed a shot from distance that took a wicked deflection and went beyond goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

Cavani finally got his goal with a simple finish inside the six-yard box after a Diego Godin header was well saved as Uruguay won only their second game ever against Russian Federation, the other being in the 1970 World Cup, to set up a tie against the runners up of Group B.

Centre-back Coates replaced the injured Jose Gimenez alongside Diego Godin for the clash against the hosts, and dealt admirably with the considerable physical threat of Artem Dzyuba as Uruguay completed a 100 per cent group-stage campaign without conceding a goal.

Perhaps the fact that Russian Federation, the lowest ranked team here at 70 in the world, started this game having already qualified affected their approach. The undefeated teams play in Samara with top spot in the group to play for.

Uruguay were comfortable having the advantage of playing with an extra man and were threatening to add more goals, but they could not carve out another chance before the break, where the led 2-0.

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Cavani sealed the win on 90 minutes by tapping home the rebound, after Akinfeev had parried Godin's header.

The euphoria surrounding Russia's national team at the World Cup has been brought back down to earth. But on the pitch there was very little of the dynamism we saw from Russia's players in their opening two victories.

Russia, meanwhile, will face Group B winners Spain after last night's 2-2 draw with Morocco.

KALININGRAD, Russia - A video replay in injury time gave Spain the goal it needed to win Group B at the World Cup.

Mohamed Salah put Egypt ahead in the 22nd minute with when he deftly controlled a long ball from Abdalla Said that split the Saudi defense and then lobbed goalkeeper Yasser Almosailem. By finishing second, Russian Federation will play at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow against the Group A victor.

It's obviously what we wanted, we wanted to keep growing throughout the World Cup and after winning two matches 1-0, today we wanted to do even better.


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