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Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia
Match 18 FIFA World Cup
|Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don|
Uruguay have held off Saudi Arabia to win their second game of the FIFA World Cup and guarantee their progress to the next round.
The 1-0 result also ensures that the host nation Russia will qualify from Group A alongside the South Americans.
It was a much improved performance from the Saudis after their horror start to the tournament. They showed plenty of attacking intent and in fact had more possession overall than the star-studded Uruguayans.
However, a poor piece of defending in the 23rd minute – young keeper Alowais coming for and failing to collect a corner – allowed Luis Suarez to score from inside the six yard box, and that meant the Saudis were always playing from behind.
While the Desert Eagles never dropped their bundle and fought on in a determined fashion, they were always lacking that cutting edge in the final third, and despite having a lot of the ball had few particularly good chances.
Nevertheless, they can feel that a certain amount of pride has been restored in keeping a team like Uruguay to just the one goal when most of the world was expecting another thumping.
It should be noted however that, for the most part, the game was a fairly tepid affair, played at a fairly low tempo in humid conditions.
For their part, Uruguay will certainly be happy to progress through to the second round. But I doubt they’ll feel too encouraged by the quality of their performances. They did have a number of good chances this evening, but ultimately they could only score from a bad error.
They’re likely to meet either Spain or Portugal in the second round. I can’t see either of those teams being so generous.
Uruguay will now need to beat Russia to top Group A as they are substantially behind the hosts on goal difference.
Saudi Arabia 0
Match 18 at the FIFA World Cup sees Saudi Arabia attempt to salvage some pride against Uruguay at the Saint Petersburg Stadium. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 1am (AEST).
Before the start of the tournament most would observers would have pencilled this match in as a one-sided contest without much likely impact apart from Uruguay’s goal difference.
Well, nothing has happened so far to change that view.
Only the true World Cup die-hards who stubbornly insist on watching every game would bother staying up for this one.
After Saudi Arabia’s insipid display in the opening game their chances of advancing beyond the group stage appear over. At best they’d hope to salvage some pride.
Realistically, that would involve preventing the La Celeste of Uruguay from putting too many past them this evening; even a draw against the likes of Suarez and Cavani seems too much to hope for.
Uruguay for their part will want to rack up as big a margin as they can. This preview was written before the result of the Egypt-Russia game is known; at this stage goal difference might have an impact on standings.
Apart from that, after a sometimes frustrating 1-0 win over a tenacious Egypt, Oscar Tabarez will want his strike force to gain the confidence that comes from hitting the back of the net.
One would think we’d see a different lineup for the Saudis in some way from their first game, but it feels like shuffling deckchairs.
You’d hope for a bit more resolve early on at least, but surely at some point one of Uruguay’s start-studded lineup – possibly Suarez in his 100th international – open the scoring and most likely Saudi Arabia go to water once more.
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