Uruguay finished their group campaign untarnished, victorious in all three matches and without conceding a goal but most importantly Luis Suarez returned to form and with him did the entire team, blowing hosts Russia aside 3-0 at the Samara Arena on Monday.
Their 0-1 wins over both Egypt and Saudi Arabia were more out of luck and looked less convincing but it was all put to rest in the opening 10 minutes as Suarez curled the ball into the net from a free-kick. Uruguay eventually had three goals to their name, with Edinson Cavani netting his first of the tournament.
The other goal came from Russian Denis Cheryshev who continued his streak but this time put the ball into his own net, when Diego Laxalt’s shot in the 24th minute deflected off him into the net, leaving Igor Akinfeev with no chance to save.
Russia surprisingly failed to score even once following their heavy victories over Egypt and Saudi Arabia and instead were down to 10 men after Igor Smolnikov received two bookings in the space of eight minutes. The ‘Golden Eagles‘ twice had opportunities early but Cheryshev shot straight into Fernando Muslera after Artem Dzyuba had set him up both the times.
The host nation despite the loss qualified to the knockouts stage three points behind Uruguay, who became the first side after Argentina in 1998, to win all three group match without conceding a goal.
Saudi Arabia edge past Egypt
It was another disappointing campaign for Egypt who go home without a point, still waiting for their first world Cup victory after similar unsuccessful appearances in 1934 and 1990.
Mo Salah had given the Pharaoh nation an early lead in the 22nd minute, plucking down a El Said long ball with his chest before lifting it over the onrushing goalkeeper.
But Saudi Arabia endured his pressure before launching attacks of their own and eventually scored twice across each-half, both coming during added time.
The first was from a penalty which Al Faraj buried without any discomfort while the second came from a counter. In search of their maiden win, Egypt put more men into attacks and Saudi needed just a last minute thrust to score when El Dawsari rifled the ball into the net with just Essam El-Hadary to beat.
It ended the ‘Green Falcon’s‘ run of 12 World Cup matches without a win and ensured their first victory since June 1994 when they had defeated Belgium 1-0.