Uruguay beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 thanks to a Luis Suarez finish in the 23rd minute. It was not a pretty performance from Oscar Tabarez’ side, but it was an important one as they will advance to the Round of 16.
Uruguay sits second on six points behind Russia on goal difference. Saudis were unable to get real chances, let alone a goal in their first two matches.
Saudi Arabia performed much better than in their 5-0 loss to Russia in the opening half.
Initially, they sat back and were waiting to hit Uruguay on the counter, which they were successful in through their main attacking outlet Fahad Almuwallad, but not getting any clear-cut chances.
Uruguay were more successful as after Edinson Cavani’s volley that went over the bar, Luis Suarez took the lead in the 23rd minute.
The corner is whipped in from the left, Alowais comes out to punch it out, but the ball flies past him, Suarez taps it in with his left from three yards out.
A terrible goalkeeping error by Alowais, who was one of the changes after the defeat to Russia. The goal was special for Suarez, as not only did it guarantee a spot in the knockout stages, it was the striker’s 100th cap for Uruguay.
Uruguay did not impress for the rest of the half, as they mostly sat back and let Saudi Arabia be in control. They produced some chances, such as the Bahebri half volley, but couldn’t take them.
Uruguay kept on with their tactics, and let Saudi Arabia come onto them. The tactic worked as Saudi Arabia could not produce any danger, and Uruguay won the ball easily.
This time they would counter with more men, and once they would establish possession, wouldn’t mind keeping it in the opposition half.
Once he came on in the 59th minute, Diego Laxalt gave Uruguay a big boost replacing Cristian Rodriguez.
He was very involved in the attacks down the left and offered a dynamic option. This may earn him a start against Russia ahead of the experienced Rodriguez.
There were a few chances for Uruguay to sure up their lead.
Cavani with the ball drives near the box, sees the run of Carlos Sanchez on the far post, produces a near perfect ball, but Sanchez’s diving header goes over.
In the 86th minute, Cavani got a chance for a second for Uruguay as he picked up the ball on the halfway line and ran it all the way into the box but was stopped by the Saudi defence.
Uruguay controlled the game throughout the second half and never looked in doubt of winning the game.
Saudi Arabia looked much more impressive than in the first half, especially Almuwallad, who managed to stretch the experienced backline of Uruguay, but ultimately were unable to get high-quality chances.
Uruguay have locked down a spot in the knockouts alongside Russia, which they will face on Monday 25th June at 15:00 GMT for the top spot in Group A.
Saudi Arabia will play Egypt simultaneously, hoping they can give a good account of themselves and leave Russia with their heads held high even after the initial drubbing from the hosts.