Suarez inspires Uruguay to win over Russia
Russia 0 Uruguay 3
Uruguay burnished their World Cup credentials with a 3-0 victory over 10-man Russia yesterday, finishing top of Group A with a perfect record while dampening the hopes of the tournament hosts, who had to settle for second.
Luis Suarez grabbed his second goal of the tournament to open Uruguay's account with a free-kick after 10 minutes when he struck a low free-kick into the bottom corner that should have been easy pickings for Russia keeper Igor Akinfeev.
And they doubled their lead with an own goal from Russia's Denis Cheryshev soon afterwards.
That silenced a vociferous home crowd which had been in party mode after Russia's opening two victories and were not expecting their final group contest to be effectively ended in the 36th minute when Igor Smolnikov was sent off.
Edinson Cavani bundled home a third goal for Uruguay at the death to wrap up their third straight victory, ensuring they finished above the Russians, who will now have to face the winners of Group B in the last 16. Uruguay, who kept their sixth straight clean sheet, will face Portugal in their Round of 16 clash in Sochi on Saturday after last night's 1-1 draw with Iran.
Russia, meanwhile, will face Group B winners Spain after last night's 2-2 draw with Morocco. That game will take place on Sunday in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
The hosts had confounded those who predicted a group stage exit with resounding victories over Saudi Arabia and Egypt, there was still a question mark over how they would perform when they faced stronger opposition.
Twice World Cup winners Uruguay offered them the chance to show they truly belonged among the elite, but it was an opportunity wasted.
"I believe that when we had 10 people in the pitch, we were running and wanted to attack more," said Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov.
Uruguay's demanding coach Oscar Tabarez added: "We could have won by more goals, we lack experience so we didn't score on some counter-attacks when we should have," he said. "We need to improve and do it soon."