By JULIEN PRETOT
Thursday, June 21, 2018
ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA -- Luis Suarez marked his 100th international cap by sending Uruguay into the last 16 of the World Cup as the striker benefited from some poor goalkeeping to eliminate Saudi Arabia with a 1-0 win on Wednesday.
Suarez tapped in midway through the first half after keeper Mohammed AlOwais failed to grab the ball on a corner.
The goal put Uruguay second behind the Russian hosts in Group A with a maximum six points.
Saudi Arabia, which has not won a World Cup game since its debut in 1994, has zero points, just like Egypt, which lost 3-1 to Russia on Tuesday.
Depending on the result of its last group game against Russia, Uruguay will take on either Spain, Portugal or Iran, three Group B teams still in contention for a place in the quarter-final.
Suarez's goal was by no means pretty, but it did the trick.
At least Suarez, who missed three glorious opportunities in Uruguay's 1-0 opening win against Egypt, was his vintage efficient self with his 52nd international goal, even though he will not have dismissed fears he was not 100-per-cent fit.
Saudi Arabia, which suffered a minor scare when an engine on the team plane caught fire before landing in Rostov-onDon on Monday, has not found the back of the net in its past four World Cup outings.
After a 5-0 drubbing by Russia in the tournament's opening game, the Saudis were more playful but ultimately comparatively toothless at the Rostov Arena before 42,678 fans.
With temperatures reaching 33 C, twotime world champions Uruguay and Saudi Arabia got off to a cautious start. Uruguay's Edinson Cavani wasted a chance in the 14th minute, skying a half volley over the bar.
The Russian fans were the loudest, chanting "Russia, Russia" as the rest of the arena appeared to doze off.
But the stadium burst into life in the 23rd minute however, when an unmarked Suarez coolly tapped into an empty net from a corner kick after keeper Al-Owais came out but misjudged his jump and couldn't reach the ball.
Suarez has now scored in three consecutive World Cups.
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring Uruguay's goal in a 1-0 Group A match against Saudi Arabia on Wednesday at the World Cup in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.