Sports

Uruguay beats host Russia 3-0

Uruguay beats host Russia 3-0

Things went from bad to worse for the tournament hosts when they were reduced to 10 men when Igor Smolnikov picked up his second yellow card after 36 minutes.

For the first time in coach Oscar Tabarez's tenure, both forwards scored in the same game and they couldn't have chosen a better time: The convincing 3-0 defeat of host Russian Federation secured Uruguay's status as group victor and as one of the most solid teams of the tournament's opening stage after taking a full nine points.

Both sides have already qualified for the last 16 with two wins. We wanted to win; we did not watch where we were playing. "We have good players too, some are better than theirs", the coach said. The home team's loss did little to deter the troops on the stands as they cheered on their team, which has already exceeded expectations.

Cherchesov's men fell further back after a fortuitous strike from Laxalt changed course following a deflection off Cheryshev's heel, leaving goalkeeper Igor Afinkeev wrong footed in the 27th minute.

Twice World Cup winners Uruguay offered them the chance to show they truly belonged among the elite, but it was an opportunity wasted.

Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, who is 45, took the field for his team's final group match to set the record. When questioned by The Telegraph about why Russian Federation (along with other nations, including England) had not disclosed how many players had undergone drugs tests at the tournament, their manager Stanislav Cherchesov said on Sunday: "Is this a question about the match or philosophy? We did not marshal thoughts at the beginning of the match, but players rode roughshod over", Cherchesov stresses.

Salem Aldawsari scored with nearly the last kick, shooting from a tight angle inside the Egypt penalty area and poking the ball past El Hadary.

Because Russia had the advantage on goal difference from its first two group matches, it would have won the group with a draw.

Salman Alfaraj got the Saudis level with a penalty kick in first-half stoppage time after Ali Gabr brought down Fahad Almuwallad in the area.

Samara is looking forward to hosting a top-of-the-table contest in Group A when Uruguay take on hosts Russian Federation with the title of "group winner" at stake.

They may live to regret an error-strewn early spell that gave Uruguay a comfortable evening and, if the joy of the last 10 days is not to fall flat, will certainly need to regroup when they walk out at the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday.


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