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World Cup: Uruguay 2-1 Portugal

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A stunning brace from Edinson Cavani secured Uruguay’s place in the quarter-finals as they beat Portugal 2-1 in Sochi.

Cavani combined with Suarez early on in the first half to give the South Americans the lead before Pepe’s towering header gave Portugal a much-needed equaliser less than ten minutes into the second half. 

However, it was Cavani once again who scored with an exquisite strike which proved in the end to be enough for Uruguay to progress into the last eight. 

The defeat for the European champions sees both Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi eliminated from the competition on the same day.

Both sides knew that a victory would secure a clash against France in the next round, and it was clear from the start that the two nations were raring to go in this eagerly awaited encounter.

Ronaldo expressed his confidence early on with a couple of fancy flicks and tricks which sparked cheers from the Portuguese crowd.

The Real Madrid man then went on to strike a powerful effort from the edge of the penalty area, however, goalkeeper Fernando Muslera safely collected the ball that came his way.

But after Ronaldo showed his intentions early on, it only took seven minutes for Uruguay to get off to a sensational start as the deadly duo of Cavani and Luis Suarez combined to score a brilliant goal for the South American side.

Cavani switched the play to pick out Suarez on the left flank who exceptionally took the ball under control. Instead of admiring his own pass, Cavani made a surging run towards the far post which Suarez recognised as his perfectly whipped-in cross found the PSG forward, who instinctively directed his header – which seemed to smack him straight in the face – into the top corner.

Portugal tried to respond quickly and had a lot of possession inside the Uruguayan half but failed to create any clear-cut chances to test goalkeeper Muslera.  

Suarez came close for Uruguay with a free-kick 21 minutes in, but his pacey and powerful effort was well saved by Rui Patricio, at full stretch, who had to be very alert as the set piece curled towards the bottom right corner.

A decent chance for Ronaldo arose when midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur needlessly gave away a free-kick on the edge of the area in what was considered to be ‘Ronaldo territory’, however, Portugal’s number seven could only hit the wall from the set piece.

Both Suarez and in particular Cavani worked tirelessly for the South American side throughout the match, constantly covering ground and making positive runs as well as putting in the hard graft defensively as they tracked back brilliantly, pressing the Portuguese when they had possession and making several challenges to win the ball back.

Uruguay’s well-structured and organised defensive unit, which included Atletico Madrid pair Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, helped keep Ronaldo and co. at bay as Oscar Tabarez’s team headed into the break with a narrow lead.

The start of the second half replicated the first as an early goal was scored, this time however by Pepe as Portugal equalised after 55 minutes.  

After a short corner, Rafael Guerreiro whipped in a dangerous delivery that picked out Pepe inside the box and he towered above everyone to thump home the header, to bring the sides level.

The Portuguese remained dangerous in the second half, creating chances in the final third which put the Uruguayan backline under some pressure.

Despite that, Uruguay always posed an attacking threat, and this caught out the Portuguese for a second time just after the hour mark, as Cavani scored his second of the match.

A long ball from Muslera was headed by Pepe into the path of Bentancur who then rolled a pass towards Cavani who beautifully executed his first-time strike, curling his effort using the side of his foot beyond Patricio into the far corner, giving the Uruguayans the lead.

A decent chance fell to Bernardo Silva 20 minutes from time, but his effort blazed over the crossbar after Muslera failed to keep hold of the ball inside the box.

The final quarter of an hour virtually saw attack versus defence as Portugal pushed bodies forward, searching for that much-needed equaliser once again, whilst Uruguay remained solid at the back as they dealt with any threats that came their way.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and that was certainly the case for Portugal as goalkeeper Patricio came forward for a corner in added time as he ended up contesting a late delivery, however, Uruguay cleared their lines.   

Despite Portugal’s efforts, Uruguay’s tenacious defending throughout paid off as the South American side did enough to get over the line.   

Not many sides have a system which includes two strikers these days, however, the partnership of both Suarez and Cavani is formidable and has been for years.

Once again they have helped to guide Uruguay into the World Cup’s last eight.

Media Credit - Wikipedia Commons. FIFA. 

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