Thanks to a goal from Luis Suarez, Uruguay clinched its place in the World Cup knockout stage by beating Saudi Arabia in Rostov-on-Don, Russia on Wednesday. As a result, Russia, which defeated Egypt 3-1 on Tuesday, also made it through to the round of 16. Matchday 3 will determine which of the two wins the group when both nations meet on Monday.
Uruguay started the match as expected, with an extra desire to take control of the game from the getgo as Luis Suarez was already causing problems in the first minutes. His shot from inside the box was dealt with but you could sense he was more than ready to make amends after a dissapointing matchday one.
Saudi Arabia, however, also looked much better as Juan Antonio Pizzi's team was passing the ball with much more accuracy and pace.
By the 10th minute, in fact, it was clear the South Americans were relying more on the counter while allowing its opponent to have the ball, at least it would enter the final third. In the 11th minute, Edinson Cavani had his first look at goal thanks to a cross from the left-hand side but his shot went high above the goal.
But in the 22nd minute, Luis Suarez capitalized from Uruguay's third corner and made it 1-0 against its opponent as Mohammed Al-Owais completely misjudged the ball coming into the box. It was his 52nd goal on his 100th cap. The Barcelona star also became the first Uruguayan to score in three different World Cups.
After the goal, Saudi Arabia pushed for the equalizer as it committed more numbers in the final third but Uruguay held strong not allowing any chances, especially outside the box.
The second half was a strong start from Saudi Arabia, as its quick possession game continued while looking for the through ball for Fahad Al Muwallad, but with no avail. In the 49th minute, Luis Suarez attempted a long freekick but was parried away by Mohammed Al-Owais.
In the 60th minute, a fantastic cross into the box from Carlos Sanchez was missed by its targets and Saudi Arabia escaped a second goal from Uruguay. Almost immediately, Sanchez became the target man himself as Cavani found him in the box from the left hand side, but the header went above the bar.
With twenty minutes remaining, Pizzi's team kept searching, specifically working the wide areas while looking for chances to put the ball in and disrupt Fernando Muslera in goal, but Uruguay's backline stood firm.
In the 79th minute a deflected shot, which ended up hitting Cavani's head and forcing an attempt on goal but it ended wide of the Saudi Arabian goal. By the end, the lone goal was enough to secure a victory for La Celeste, and along with Russia, they became the first two teams to qualify for the round of 16.
Here were the lineups for both teams:
Here are the rosters for both sides:
Goalkeepers: Martin Campana (Independiente), Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco da Gama)
Defenders: Martin Caceres (Lazio), Sebastian Coates (Sporting Lisbon), Jose Maria Gimenez (Atletico Madrid), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Maximiliano Pereira (Porto), Gaston Silva (Independiente), Guillermo Varela (Penarol)
Midfielders: Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus), Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Cruzeiro), Nahitan Nandez (Boca Juniors), Gaston Ramirez (Sampdoria), Cristian Rodriguez (Penarol), Carlos Sanchez (Monterrey), Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria), Matias Vecino (Inter Milan)
Forwards: Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain), Maximiliano Gomez (Celta), Cristhian Stuani (Girona), Luis Suarez (Barcelona)
Manager: Oscar Tabarez
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al-Owais (Al Ahli), Yasser Al Mosailem (Al Ahli), Abdullah Al-Mayouf (Al Hilal)
Defenders: Mansoor Al-Harbi (Al Ahli), Yasser Al-Shahrani (Al Hilal) Mohammed Al-Breik (Al HIlal), Motaz Hawsawi (Al Ahli), Osama Hawsawi (Al Hilal), Omar Hawsawi (Al Nassr), Ali Al-Bulaihi (Al Hilal)
Midfielders: Abdullah Al-Khaibari (Al Shabab), Abdulmalek Al-Khaibri (Al Hilal), Abdullah Otayf (Al Hilal), Taiseer Al-Jassim (Al Ahli), Houssain Al-Mogahwi (Al Ahli), Salman Al-Faraj (Al Hilal), Mohamed Kanno (Al Hilal), Hattan Bahebri (Al Shabab), Salem Al-Dawsari (Al Hilal), Yahya Al-Shehri (Al Nassr)
Forwards: Fahad Al-Muwallad (Al Ittihad), Mohammad Al-Sahlawi (Al Nassr), Muhannad Assiri (Al Ahli)
Manager: Juan Antonio Pizzi