- Uruguay reach Round of 16 for third World Cup running
- Saudi Arabia goalless again to break their own world finals record
Uruguay made sure of their place in the Round of 16 at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ after a 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in Rostov-on-Don.
With the temperatures reaching 32°C, La Celeste had good reason to conserve their energy. They took the lead after 23 minutes, when Luis Suarez sidefooted into an empty net after Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais had tried and failed to claim a corner.
After moving into pole position to qualify for the next round, the Uruguayans paced themselves, continuing to probe but without exerting themselves too much, despite the fact that a draw with Russia in their final game will leave them second in Group A.
In the lead-up to the match, Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi had urged his players to be competitive, putting the emphasis more on the right mindset than on strategy and tactics. He has reason to be satisfied despite their elimination. Though not the strongest side in the competition, the Saudis battled hard and had chances to score.
Team reporter analysis
Uruguay made the most of their considerable defensive prowess and strength in the air to claim a win that did not come as easily as expected. Though they tried to kill the game off to avoid a nasty surprise, La Celeste were wayward in front of goal after Suarez’s opener, which proved enough for a place in the next round along with Russia.
The team gave a better account of themselves than in their opening match. Despite conceding, the Saudi defence held the Uruguayan attack at bay for the rest of the game and enjoyed plenty of possession, without ever carrying a genuine goal threat.
Budweiser Man of the Match
Luis Suarez celebrated his 100th appearance for his country in typical fashion, scoring his 52nd international goal to become the first Uruguay player in history to find the back of the net at three World Cups. The front man scored three times at South Africa 2010 and twice at Brazil 2014.
366 – Saudi Arabia have beaten their own record for failing to score at the world finals, having now gone goalless in the competition for 366 minutes. Their previous worst mark was 343 minutes, between France 1998 and Germany 2006, when Al Jaber scored their most recent World Cup goal, against Tunisia.