Uruguay too slick for sluggish Russian Federation

Marcus Newton
June 28, 2018

Coach Stanislav Cherchesov had made two more changes but they also backfired spectacularly, with Igor Smolnikov sent off in the 36th minute after a second booking, and Fyodor Kudryashov equally overworked in defense.

After beating Saudi Arabia and Egypt to reach the knockout stages for the first time since the Soviet era, the host's limitations were painfully evident in the 3-0 loss to Uruguay.

Matters were made worse for Russian Federation in the 36th minute, Smolnikov picking up his second booking after lunging in on Cavani, just eight minutes after being carded for a foul on Matias Vecino.

A 1-0 defeat of Egypt was mirrored against Saudi Arabia but Tabarez's side undoubtedly have more to prove in their last group game.

There was plenty of noise from the stands - so Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera will have had many quieter games in terms of volume - but he had little work to do as he became his country's all-time leading appearance maker at the World Cup.

Gimenez is suffering from muscle pain in his right thigh that has prevented him from training normally, and he did not want to force himself to play considering Uruguay have already sealed their place in the knockout round.

Left-back Yuri Zhirkov is one player who could sit out, despite returning from a foot injury to keep Salah quiet in the 3-1 victory on Tuesday.

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"He's played for 15 minutes and he got a yellow and I don't need this for the next game and as he's stated there are 23 players and each of them must be ready to help the team", Cherchesov said.

The host team achieved its minimum objective and already qualified from Group A along with their opponent.

It is the farthest Russian Federation has advanced in the post-Soviet era. Russian Federation had enjoyed an impressive start to the tournament with two wins from as many games but they went behind in their final group match after only 10 minutes when Luis Suarez drilled in a clever low free-kick.

In the other match of this group of Saudi Arabia for the first time since 1994 won the world Cup. Still, Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez sees the match as an opportunity to fine-tune the team for the next round. The FIFA World Cup™ is always decided by fine margins, so an advantage such as finishing as group winners rather than runners-up can potentially be a crucial factor in the long run.

While Russia had confounded those who predicted a group stage exit with resounding victories over Saudi Arabia and Egypt, there was still a question mark over how they would perform when they faced stronger opposition.

Uruguay should have put the tie to bed but Suarez's square ball was just in front of Cavani, yet to shine in the competition so far, after a fine counter attack.

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