Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez hailed the 'dedication and concentration' shown by his players in their emphatic 3-0 victory over Russia in their final FIFA World Cup Group A match on Monday. However, he sounded far from satisfied with certain aspects of his side's performance.
Goals from Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani - as well as an own goal from Denis Cheryshev - gave La Celeste the victory over the World Cup hosts and ensured they'd finish first in the group.
Speaking after the game - and quoted by the BBC - Tabarez said: "We could have won by even more goals. We did not manage to score on certain counter-attacks that we should have. Sometimes the timing wasn't perfect."
Tabarez also acknowledged that La Celeste would face far more testing opposition than Russia in the round of 16. "We need to improve very quickly, because any match in the round of 16 will be extremely difficult," he admitted.
Uruguay's win over the hosts means that their next opponents will be Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal, who finished second in Group B after drawing 1-1 with Iran on Monday night. Although the Portuguese have been unconvincing so far, they are indeed likely to be far tougher opponents than Russia.
Tabarez was full of praise for the way in which his side thwarted the hosts' game plan. He explained: "Russia did not push us around, they tried to put us into a corner. Not only did we prevent them from doing that, but we put them in their half of the pitch in the first half."
The 71-year-old also hailed Uruguay's defensive solidity and professional attitude. "We won by a wide margin but I like the fact that we didn't concede. We need to work towards that end," he said, adding: "I liked the dedication and concentration that my team had. They were focused from end to end, the entire squad. They executed the plan."
Uruguay have now reached the last 16 in three successive World Cups, finishing in fourth place in 2010 but losing to Colombia in the round of 16 in 2014.