Published: Thu, June 28, 2018
Sport | By Ashley Hunter

Uruguay tops Russia, Group A with flawless record

Uruguay tops Russia, Group A with flawless record

THE euphoria surrounding Russia's national team at the World Cup has been brought back down to earth.

In a fast start, Uruguay were ahead inside 10 minutes as Suarez, who scored the victor against Saudi Arabia on matchday two, found the net with a pinpoint free-kick.

That silenced a vociferous home crowd which had been in party mode after Russia's opening two victories and were not expecting their final group contest to be effectively ended in the 36th minute when Igor Smolnikov was sent off.

The hosts were rewarded with their best chances of the match, the first to Artem Dzuba, who fired wildly over the bar from inside the box, the second by Fedor Smelov, who dazzled to find space in behind the Uruguay defence but failed to pick out a team-mate with what looked to be an easy cut-back.

Portugal finished second in Group B after a draw with Iran.

Cherchesov said preparation is the key to Russia's success. "We did not marshal thoughts at the beginning of the match, but players rode roughshod over", Cherchesov stresses.

Seasoned campaigners Uruguay appear to be warming up as the tournament goes on and they still have not a conceded a goal - a first for them after three matches at the World Cup. Alexander Golovin had been the team's creative spark in midfield, but he was rested since another yellow card for him would have meant a one-game ban. Perhaps it was the oppressive heat.

Russian Federation were badly missing their own midfield ace Aleksandr Golovin, rested for fear of another booking that could have seen him miss the next game.

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One win could get them on track, and despite their bad performance to this point, they are still favorites in this match. The drama is set to unfold, and the game between Nigeria and Argentina will have a telling effect on the consequences.

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Brazil are otherwise unchanged as Tite announced their squad on Thursday with the news that Neymar is expected to start . The penalty was awarded after a video review showed that Alfred Finnbogason had been brought down by Tyronne Ebuehi.

Seeing as the Russians' next match will be against Group B winners Spain in the round of 16 on Sunday, it's hard to disagree with their manager's assessment. Tomorrow's match will decide on the victor of their Group A, which also enrolls the teams from Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

A nation so down on its team leading into the World Cup had swiftly been swept up in a wave of optimism following a start to their Group A campaign that even president Vladimir Putin wouldn't have dared dream. As a team we're thinking about what's best for the squad as that's what's most important.

Uruguay would have had a third soon after if not for a fine save from Akinfeev, who prevented Bentancur celebrating his 21st birthday with a goal. Akinfeev makes the save from Bentacur and Cavani was robbed of the rebound. For them it is three wins from three, but their next match will be a much more serious test. Here are 3 decisive moments that tilted the tie in Uruguay's favor and sealed their place at the top of the group.

- Russian Federation are now winless in each of their six World Cup matches in which they have conceded the first goal (D1 L5).

Luis Suarez. Uruguay haven't looked terribly impressive at this World Cup but have managed to remain flawless in the group stages thanks to a miserly defence and the efforts of their talisman.

Suarez fired the South Americans in front with a sweetly-struck free-kick just 10 minutes in at the Samara Arena before Denis Cheryshev deflected Diego Laxalt's effort past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev 13 minutes later to double the advantage.

Uruguay finished the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup atop Group A after defeating hosts Russian Federation 3-0 at the Samara Arena on Monday.

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