Uruguay 3 - 0 Russia: Perfect start but La Celeste look for more

Uruguay's Luis Suarez falls into the net as his team-mate Edinson Cavani celebrates making it 3-0. Picture: Getty.
Uruguay's Luis Suarez falls into the net as his team-mate Edinson Cavani celebrates making it 3-0. Picture: Getty.
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Oscar Tabarez warned his Uruguay side they need to improve despite securing top spot in Group A with a thumping 3-0 win over Russia.

Luis Suarez led the way as the South Americans ended ten-man Russia’s perfect start to their own World Cup.

Suarez fired them in front with a sweetly-struck free-kick just ten 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.

Russia’s hopes of launching a fightback were effectively over before half-time when full-back Igor Smolnikov was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Although the hosts were much improved after the restart, Edinson Cavani struck again at the death as Uruguay coasted to victory to complete a maximum haul of nine points without conceding a single goal.

Uruguay coach Tabarez said at his post-match press conference: “Russia did not push us around, they tried to put us into a corner. Not only did we prevent them from doing that, but we put them in their half of the pitch in the first half.

“We could have won by even more goals. We did not manage to score on certain counter-attacks that we should have.

“Sometimes the timing wasn’t perfect. We need to improve very quickly, because any match in the round of 16 will be extremely difficult.

“The result and to be top of our group pleased me most. We won by a wide margin but I like the fact that we didn’t concede. We need to work towards that end.

“And I liked the dedication and concentration that my team had. They were focused from end to end, the entire squad. They executed the plan that we worked towards and which we all agreed.”

Uruguay got off to a positive start when Matias Vecino whistled a long-range effort just wide of Akinfeev’s right post with less than two minutes gone as the South Americans served warning of their intent.

But the Russia keeper was beaten with ten minutes gone after midfielder Rodrigo Betancur was tripped on the edge of the penalty area when Suarez had broken free down the left and crossed. The Barcelona striker stepped up to smash the resulting free-kick low to Akinfeev’s left and into the bottom corner after Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich inexplicably moved out of the way to clear the path to goal.

The hosts’ plight took a further turn for the worse with 23 minutes played when, after Lucas Torreira’s corner had been only half-cleared, 
Laxalt’s fierce driver took a wicked deflection off Cheryshev and flew past the keeper to make it 2-0.

Then, nine minutes before the break, Smolnikov, who had earlier been booked for a foul on Cavani, felled Laxalt and received a second yellow card.

Russia regrouped after the interval but chances to get back into the game were few and far between. And in the closing stages Uruguay rubber-stamped their dominance with a third goal, Cavani stabbing home the rebound after Diego Godin’s bullet header was well saved by Akinfeev.

It was a chastening afternoon for Russia, but they lost safe in the knowledge that they, too, have still qualified for the last 16.

“Psychologically we are well prepared for the next games,” said manager Stanislav Cherchesov afterwards.