Russia 2018 Watch: Suarez helps Uruguay sink hosts
PUBLISHED: 17:38 25 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:38 25 June 2018
Read our World Cup blog over the coming weeks. Lane Dias reviews game one on day 12 of the tournament
Uruguay and Russia were meeting for the first time in the World Cup since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and were both hoping to win Group A.
The Uruguayans had never previously won all three group matches in the World Cup and were hoping to make history in Russia, who achieved the feat in 1966 (as part of the Soviet Union), when they defeated North Korea, Italy and Chile, and we all know how that one ended as the Three Lions successfully brought football ‘home.’
La Celeste and the Soviet Union had met seven times, with the Soviets winning six of their duels, their third coming in the World Cup back in 1962, while the South Americans triumphed 1-0 in extra-time to defeat the USSR eight years later at the World Cup in Mexico.
With both sides having won their first two group fixtures against Egypt and Saudi Arabia, this meeting was about deciding top spot.
Uruguay have qualified for the last 16 for the third consecutive World Cup tournament, while the Russians are in the second round for the first time in 32 years – when they were part of the Soviet Union.
In the first meeting between the two sides since Russia became an independent nation, they played out a 1-1 stalemate in Moscow in 2012, and that same result would have been enough for the hosts to top the group. Although a large number of England fans were hoping for a Russia win so that history could repeat itself.
However, the hosts fell behind after just eight minutes following a free-kick from Barcelona’s former Liverpool striker Luis Súarez, who fired the ball low past Igor Akinfeev, after Sergei Ignashevich bizarrely moved out of the way to open up the space.
The strike was Suárez’s second of the competition and he celebrated with a Freddie Mercury fist pump as the Russian wall ‘bit the dust’.
The goal also meant he overtook Diego Forlán as Uruguay’s second all-time leading goalscorer in World Cup history with seven goals.
Incidentally, prior to Suárez’s free-kick, Forlán was the last Uruguayan player to score from a direct free-kick in the World Cup, when the former Manchester United and Atlético Madrid forward curled home against Ghana in 2010.
In the 23rd minute, Óscar Tábarez’s side doubled their lead when Diego Laxalt’s strike took a wicked deflection off the leg of Russia’s top-scorer in the competition, Denis Cheryshev, to find the back of the net.
Matters got worse for Stanislav Cherchesov’s men in the 36th minute, when they were reduced to 10 men following a second yellow card to Igor Smolnikov, who had been booked nine minutes earlier but still slid in needlessly on Laxalt.
In the 90th minute, Edinson Cavani completed the rout when he dispatched a loose ball after Diego Godín had been denied by Akinfeev to condemn the Russians to their worst-ever defeat in the competition.