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Uruguay 3-0 Russia: La Celeste ease past hosts to secure top spot in Group A

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Uruguay secured top spot of Group A at the World Cup by defeating Russia 3-0 in Samara.

Luis Suarez and a Denis Cheryshev own goal had put La Celeste in control before Igor Smolnikov’s dismissal 10 minutes before half-time all but killed the match as a competitive prospect. Edinson Cavani rounded off the win with a third goal, his first of the tournament, in second half injury time.

Cavani scored his first goal of the tournament against Russia

The match started as an open affair, with it clear both teams were going for the win and three points that would guarantee top spot in the group and a potentially easier draw in the round of 16.

Both sides had chances, but Suarez had the quality in front of goal when it mattered after 10 minutes. Yury Gazinskiy brought down Rodrigo Bentancur on the edge of the Russia box, and Suarez stepped up to fire a low free-kick around the wall and into the bottom corner of Igor Akinfeev’s net for his second goal of the tournament.

Cheryshev came close to equalising just moments later, but his strike after some fine interplay from Russia in the final third was straight at Muslera, who stood up well and diverted the ball wide.

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That shot was the highlight of Cheryshev’s match, as his next noticeable impact came in front of his own goal; the winger could do nothing when Diego Laxalt’s wild shot deflected off his leg and past Akinfeev to put Uruguay two goals to the good.

Akinfeev was unlucky to be beaten by Laxalt’s strike

And just over 10 minutes later, Cheryshev was taken off, substituted for Mario Fernandes after Igor Smolnikov’s dismissal for two yellow cards.

The tactical change allowed Uruguay to solidify at the back, and they largely restricted Uruguay in the final third as the opening period wore on.

The same could be said after the break, with La Celeste struggling to break through Russia’s rigid backline.

The tournament hosts themselves managed a few good opportunities, but the final ball often let them down; once attack in particular could have finished with Fernandes through on goal, but the pass to him was slightly over-hit and the move broke down.

Some questionable decision making from Fernando Muslera created another chance for Russia, with a poor pass out from the back ceding possession. However, when Artem Dzyuba was played in, he cut back onto his left foot and mishit the ball horribly, sending a shot high and wide from just inside the area.

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The game died down as the minutes drew on, with both teams probing but not looking likely to add to the two goals scored in the opening 45 minutes.

But then, as injury time rolled around, Cavani pounced on a rebound in the area to poke Uruguay’s third past Akinfeev and round off the victory.

STAR MAN

Lucas Torreira put in a superb showing in Uruguay’s midfield. The 22-year-old was finding real joy in a holding role, suffocating Russia’s attack with relative ease. Sitting at the base of a diamond midfield, Torreira not only broke up play, he was also a key part of Uruguay’s approach moving forward as he looked to dictate the tempo of the match; his pass accuracy of 93.9 per cent was higher than any other Uruguay player who started the match. Admittedly, his job was made easier than usual due to Russia being reduced to 10 men, but that should not take away from how much he influence Uruguay’s style of play.

Torreira put in an eye-catching performance against Russia

Arsenal have been linked with signing Torreira, and their fans were going crazy over his performance on social media. You can see the full reaction here.

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MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Luis Suarez opened the scoring with a fine free-kick, but Denis Cheryshev’s own goal, which made it 2-0, put Uruguay in total control and basically ended the match as a contest. There was nothing to be done about the strike, with Diego Laxalt firing miles wide before the ball struck Cheryshev and diverted into the opposite corner of the goal than the one keeper Igor Akinfeev had started to move towards. Uruguay were the better team on the day, but Russia can certainly call themselves unlucky about this finish.

LINE-UPS

Uruguay: Muslera, Caceres, Godin, Coates, Nandez (Rodriguez 73′), Bentancur (De Arrascaeta 63′), Torreira, Vecino, Laxalt, Suarez, Cavani (Gomez 93′)
Subs not used: Campana, Varela, Sanchez, Stuani, Gaston Silva, Maxi Pereira, Urreta, Martin Silva
Russia: Akinfeev, Smolnikov, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Kudryashov, Zobnin, Gazinsky (Kuzyaev 46′), Samedov, Cheryshev (Fernandes 38′) , Aleksey Miranchuk (Smolov 60′), Dzyuba
Subs not used: Lunev, Semenov, Granat, Anton Miranchuk, Golovin, Zhirkov, Erokhin, Gabulov

GROUP A TABLE

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