Uruguay is on the round of sixteen with a less than convincing 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia.
The Daily Mail:” Luis Suarez scored on his 100th international appearance to send Uruguay through to the knockout stage along with hosts Russia as Saudi Arabia and Egypt were eliminated from Group A.
The Barcelona star became the first Uruguayan to score at three different World Cup finals when he prospered from another Saudi blunder midway through the first half in sweltering Rostov.
It was just as well too because it was a second flat performance at this tournament from a team boasting the likes of Suarez and Edinson Cavani following an unconvincing win over Egypt in their opener.
For the Saudis, there was at least a measure of redemption in the wake of their horror show against the Russians. They remain on a 12-game winless streak at the World Cup going back 24 years, and will be hoping to sign off with a win against Egypt in what is now a dead rubber.
They had endured a miserable start to the tournament following that embarrassing 5-0 defeat to Russia in Moscow. Even their team flight to Rostov had gone badly after one of the engines caught fire.
The nation’s sports authority chief Turki al-Sheikh had to apologise to Saudi heir Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after admitting that the team gave ‘less than five per cent effort’ in their Group A opener.
Football federation chief Adel Ezzat went one step further by naming and shaming three of the players – goalkeeper Abdullah Almuaiouf, striker Mohammed Alsahlawi and defender Omar Hawsawi – while vowing they would face a ‘penalty’ by a state not known for its leniency.
Being dropped is the very least they could have expected, and it was no surprise to see coach Juan Antonio Pizzi name all three on the bench as he made a total of four changes.
On the other hand, Uruguay boss Oscar Tabarez made just two as the inclusion of Carlos Sanchez and Cristian Rodriguez meant that the South Americans started with seven players over the age of 31.
If there was any hope for Saudi Arabia, it was Uruguay’s difficulty in breaking down Egypt in their opening game before winning with a late goal. It was a similar story here for the first quarter before the favourites capitalised on more kamikaze defending from their opponents to take the lead.
Replacement goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais, winning just his second cap, rushed out to meet a corner in the 23rd minute but ended up flapping at thin air under pressure from Diego Godin. Suarez was waiting unmarked to meet the ball with a side-footed volley from close range.
At that stage, you feared another Saudi collapse but they actually rallied to create two chances before half-time.
Both efforts came from Hatan Bahbri who cut inside from the right after 26 minutes and unleashed a fine effort that forced Fernando Muslera to tip the ball over his bar.
Bahbri should have done better three minutes later when Godin lost track of Yasser Alshahrani’s cross from the left. The ball fell at the No.9’s feet and he seemed to be caught by surprise as he steered his effort over.
Saudi had to make a change before the interval when Taiseer Aljassam pulled a hamstring as he overstretched for the ball, but was rather bizarrely retrieved from the tunnel and thrust back into the action for a few moments before Hussain Almoqahwi was ready to come on as a replacement.
However, they continued to match their highly-rated opponents whose slender lead was looking increasingly precarious as the second half progressed.
Tabarez sent Lucas Torreira and Diego Laxalt in an attempt to raise his team, and they almost added a second just after the hour mark when Cavani’s excellent cross picked out Carlos Sanchez but his header flew well over the bar.
Cavani also went close on two occasions but, ultimately, Suarez’s strike was enough to send Uruguay and Russia through. However, the South Americans will need to raise their game in the second stage if they are to justify their tag as dark horses to win the World Cup.