MX23RW : Thursday, February 21 18:56:46
Jun 25, 2018 at 3pm UK at ​Cosmos Arena
Attendance: 41,970
Suarez (10'), Cheryshev (23' og.), Cavani (90')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Smolnikov (36')

Live Commentary: Uruguay 3-0 Russia - as it happened

Relive how Uruguay secured top spot in World Cup Group A with a 3-0 win over hosts Russia, courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates from the Samara Arena.
Live Commentary: Uruguay 3-0 Russia - as it happened
© Reuters

Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani were both on the scoresheet as Uruguay ran out 3-0 winners over Russia this afternoon to seal first place in World Cup Group A.

A precise free kick from Suarez on 10 minutes silenced the raucous home crowd in Samara before things got worse for the hosts with a Denis Cheryshev own goal.

Two yellow cards in the space of nine minutes for right-back Igor Smolnikov handed Uruguay full control as Russia's promising start to the tournament began to unravel.

Edinson Cavani added a third late on for the South Americans, who progress to the knockout stages with a 100% record and will play the runners-up of Group B in the last 16.

Relive how the action unfolded with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.

2.00pmWe are officially at the halfway point of the 2018 FIFA World Cup so things are starting to hot up. Every game matters, and today in Samara, hosts Russia and Uruguay are fighting to secure top spot in Group A, having both already qualified for the last 16 with two wins from two matches.

2.02pmJust before we get to the team news, let's clarify the perumations of today's result. Uruguary must win to top the group, but a draw would be enough for Russia because of their vastly superior goal difference. Spain and Portugal likely await in the next round, unless Iran have anything to say about that, so it may not end up being too favourable a passage for the winners anyway.

2.04pmURUGUAY: Muslera; Caceres, Coates, Godin; Laxalt, Nandez, Torreira, Vecino, Bentancur; Suarez, Cavani
Subs: Varela, Sanchez, Rodriguez, De Arrascaeta, Stuani, Campana, G Silva, Pereira, Gomez, Urretaviscaya, M Silva

2.06pmRUSSIA: Akinfeev; Smolnikov, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Kurdjasov; Samedov, Gazinskiy; Miranchuk, Zobnin, Cheryshev; Dzyuba
Subs: Fernandes, Semenov, Kuzyaev, Smolov, Lunev, Granat, An Miranchuk, Golovin, Zhirkov, Gabulov, Erokhin

2.08pmUruguay boss Oscar Tabarez has made four changes to the lineup which started the 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia, one of them enforced with Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez missing with a half problem. Ex-Liverpool defender Sebastien Coates is recalled to start alongside captain Diego Godin.

2.10pmThe rest of Tabarez's changes appear to be tactical or rotational, with former Manchester United full-back Guillermo Varela and experienced midfielders Cristian Rodriguez and Carlos Sanchez, who have 143 caps between them, dropping out, but there is no rest for Luis Suarez or Edinson Cavani.

2.12pmThe beneficiaries of Tabarez's reshuffle include veteran defender Martin Caceres, Diego Laxalt and Lucas Torreira, the Sampdoria midfielder who has been heavily tipped to join Arsenal this summer. Torreira has appeared as a substitute twice in this tournament and now gets a chance to start.

2.14pmAlongside Torreria in a youthful midfield three is Rodrigo Bentancur, who is fresh off his debut season at Juventus. Bentancur turns 21 today - what a way to spend your birthday - playing in the World Cup, against the host nation, at a packed Samara Arena. Beats bowling and a pizza hut, huh?

2.16pmAt the opposite end of his international career is goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, who wins his 100th cap for Uruguay in this match. Muslera becomes the seventh player to reach that landmark for La Celeste, with five others in the squad - Suarez, Cavani, Rodriguez, Godin and Maxi Pereira.

2.18pmAlthough top spot in Group A is up for grabs, Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov has also rotated to prioritise the last 16, or give others an opportunity on this grand stage. There are changes on both sides of the defence - Igor Smolnikov and Fedor Kudriashov for Mario Fernandez and Yuri Zhirkov.

2.20pmCherchesov hands a World Cup debut to attacking midfielder Aleksei Miranchuk in place of Aleksandr Golovin, who is a yellow card away from suspension. Just ahead of Miranchuk up top is giant target man Artem Dzyuba, who has been one of the tournament's most eye-catching performers so far.

2.22pmDespite the fact that he will be 39 before the end of this tournament, there is no rest for defender Sergei Ignashevich, although the CSKA Moscow stalwart is still just a kid compared to Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, who will become the World Cup's oldest ever player today at 45 years, five months and 13 days.

2.24pmThe hosts are still without Ignashevich's club teammate Alan Dzagoev, who picked up a hamstring injury 24 minutes into the World Cup. Mind you, they haven't really been missing him, with replacement Denis Cheryshev having taken his opportunity with both hands with three goals in two appearances.

2.26pmHaving entered as the lowest ranked team in the tournament, Russia have emerged as one of the surprise packages, winning both of their matches to date and banging the goals in too. It is a welcome surprise too; the cliche that it is healthy for the tournament for the hosts to do well is a cliche for a reason.

Let's hope the Qatar boys are getting their practice in...

2.28pmRussia's eight goals in this World Cup - five against Saudi Arabia and three against Egypt is more than they managed in their previous two World Cup tournaments combined - six across 2002 and 2014. Cheryshev, who had previously not scored an international goal in 11 caps, is their top scorer.

2.30pmRussia have a positive goal difference of +7 in their opening two Group A matches. All three of the previous host nations to have a +5 goal difference or more in their opening two games of that World Cup have gone on to win the tournament: France (+7) in 1998, Italy (+6) in 1934 and Uruguay (+5) in 1930.

2.32pmWhile the below statistic could be seen as a good omen, it could also be construed as very misleading. The Russians have piled on the goals against two of the tournament's weakest defences and today will be a much sterner test of their firepower, with Uruguay yet to concede a goal in this tournament.

2.34pmEach of the last three European hosts of a World Cup have won all three of their group stage games - Germany in 2006, France in 1998 and Italy in 1990. However, history does not favour Russia's chances of following suit as they have lost each of their last four World Cup meetings with South American sides.

2.36pmUruguay's own 100% start has not been quite as convincing. They needed an 89th-minute header from Jose Gimenez to overcome Egypt, and only a solitary Luis Suarez strike separated them and a Saudi Arabia side who were shown to be very leaky by Russia in the tournament's opening encounter.

2.38pmWhile Suarez is off the mark, the other half of Uruguary's feared forward pairing is still waiting for his big World Cup moment. Cavani, who chalked up 37 goals for Paris Saint-Germain last season, has only scored once in six World Cup appearances, and that was a penalty in a 3-1 defeat against Costa Rica.

2.40pmThe South Americans recovered from that shock defeat in 2014 to beat both Italy and England to progress through the group stage in Brazil. They will be looking to make it three World Cup wins in a row against European opposition, having failed to win any of their previous 15, drawing six and losing nine.

2.42pmHEAD TO HEAD: Uruguay's record against the hosts is not very promising though, having only won one of their eight meetings against Russia (includes games as the Soviet Union). This win did come at the World Cup in 1970, after extra time in the quarter-finals in Mexico.

2.44pmJust over a quarter of an hour until kickoff in Samara, which is bathing today in a roasting 32 degress heat. With both teams already qualified there does seem to be a danger that the temperature could influence the pace of the game, but hopefully we still see these two sides at full throttle.

2.46pmMeanwhile in Volgograd, which is even hotter at 34 degrees, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are facing off to avoid the wooden spoon in Group A. Not too much riding on that one, but if you're a big Mohamed Salah fan you can follow the game with my colleague Darren Plant here. The Liverpool man starts!

2.48pmAfter taking care of their own business, each of these two teams will have an eye on tonight's matches, with Spain taking on Morocco and Portugal aiming to avoid an upset versus Iran. The winner in Samara will face the runner-up of Group B so there could be some new Iranian fans in Russia tonight.

2.50pmSTAT: This is the first time ever that Russia have played an international fixture at the Samara Arena, which is one of the purpose-built stadiums for this World Cup. It will host six matches in total over the course of the tournament; the two so far have only yielded three goals.

2.52pmRead it through for a second time and hopefully you will appreciate this brilliant tweet...

2.54pmThe players are out for the national anthems, with the Russian fans roaring their tune alongside their players. This crowd have real belief in their team and that rendition was absolutely deafening.

2.56pmAlthough neither's qualification rests on this game, it could be the most important that either have played so far. Not necessarily because it will determine their last-16 opponent, but because it will give them each a test against the standard of opposition they will face as they go on in the tournament.

2.58pmPREDICTION: If Uruguay have been efficient in their opening two games, Russia have been explosive and the raucous backing inside the Samara Arena is only going to give their confidence an extra boost. If Suarez and Cavani turn it on, Uruguay could nick it but I'm going for 2-1 to Russia.

1 minKICKOFF: The action is underway in Samara, where our referee this afternoon is Malang Diedhiou, who has officiated in two Africa Cup of Nations and the Olympics, so has plenty of big-stage experience.

3 minSHOT! Of Uruguay's three midfielders, Matias Vecino is probably the least glamorous but he tries to take centre stage early on here with a 30-yard strike which rolled just wide of the post, although Igor Akinfeev had it covered.

5 minArtem Dzyuba, who stands at a massive 6ft 5in, has bullied Saudi and Egyptian defenders to help himself to two goals so far in the tournament, won't have it so easy today against Godin, who is a warrior who will embrace such a battle. The Uruguay captain draws first blood in the aerial battle.

7 minUruguay have made a tactical change from their opening two matches, switching to a back three to accommodate the ball-playing midfield duo of Torreira and Bentancur. Perhaps that alteration will give Suarez and Cavani more service to feed off, and we know they will score if they have the supply line.

9 minYELLOW! Suarez's run down the left wing stretches the Russian defence, and although his attempted cross to Cavani is intercepted, the South Americans have a really good chance here because Yuri Gazinskiy went through the back of Bentancur as the second ball rolled out to him on the edge of the box.


10 minSuarez slots the 20-yard free kick right into the bottom corner to stun the Russian masses in Samara! Ignashevich makes it easier for the Barcelona forward by pulling both himself and Cavani off the end of the wall to leave an inviting gap, but all credit to Suarez for having the precision to take advantage.

12 minThat strike for Suarez moves him one goal behind Uruguay's record goalscorer at the World Cup, Oscar Miguez, who was part of the triumphant squad in 1950. Suarez's seventh goal at the tournament has taken him clear of former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan and into second in those rankings.

14 minSAVE! Russia immediately have a decent opening to equalise with the ball falling to Cheryshev on the edge of the area. The left-footed strike is clean but straight at Muslera who pushes away.

16 minCHANCE! Russia's two danger men combine as Cheryshev drops a corner perfectly onto the head of Dzyuba, who had peeled onto one of Uruguay's smaller players but can only head into the ground and over.

18 minThis has been a good response from the hosts with Cheryshev heavily involved in everything. After Russia's last good tournament run - Euro 2008 - Andre Arshavin and Roman Pavluychenko picked up big moves and the Villarreal winger may be catching the eye of some Premier League teams.

20 minThe early flow of the game has been somewhat disrupted in the last couple of minutes by a series of fouls and free kicks. Both teams have the capacity to be dangerous from set pieces but the delivery, particularly the most recent one from Torreira, hasn't been up to scratch in the opening stages.

22 minUPDATE! There has been a goal in Group A's other match with Egypt taking a 1-0 lead over Saudi Araba. No prize for guessing who the goalscorer is - a certain Mohamed Salah of Liverpool. What could have been for their tournament had the winger been fit for their first match...


23 minThe South Americans are in full control now, although they have had a massive slice of luck to double their lead. A corner comes out to Diego Laxalt who lines up an innocuous shot from 25 yards out, and it takes a massive deflection off Cheryshev and finds its way into the bottom corner.

25 minThat may go down as Laxalt's first international goal - the Genoa midfielder is winning his eighth cap today - although it might later be changed to a Cheryshev own goal. The initial shot was almost certainly going off target before it totally changed direction and wrong-footed Akinfeev.

27 minYELLOW! Having coasted through their opening two matches, Russia are on the ropes now and second-choice right-back Smolnikov has to take drastic action to avoid Laxalt getting free down the left, at the cost of a yellow card.

29 minCHANCE! It could, and possibly should, be 3-0 to Uruguay with Bentancur's close-range effort blocked by Akinfeev, and Cavani unable to turn the rebound home under pressure from a couple of defenders.

31 minAkinfeev again has to be on his toes to come off his line and clear as Suarez threatened to run in behind from a long ball. To his credit, 38-year-old Ignashevich kept up with the Barcelona goalscorer and helped usher the ball back to the safety of his goalkeeper.

34 minThe big difference in this Uruguay performance has been the change of shape, which has freed up Bentancur who has been excellent so far alongside Torreira. The South Americans have been much more progressive with their passing and have picked plenty of holes in this Russia defence.

36 minRED CARD! The excitement of the occasion must have got to Igor Smolnikov because he has just lunged in on Laxlat for the second time in 10 minutes, and has been given his marching orders. It is a reckless and completely unnecessary challenge, and leaves his side with a mountain to climb.

38 minSUBSTITUTION: Russia manager Cherchesov responds to going a man down by sacrificing Cheryshev and bringing on Fernandez, who started the first two games at right-back and will certainly be back in the team for the knockout stages after Smolnikov's self-destruction.

40 minI hope this Russian capitulation - in their first serious test of the tournament after wins over two minnows - is not a sign of things to come for England. That Smolnikov double-yellow has Kyle Walker written all over it. The Three Lions finish their Group G campaign against Belgium on Thursday evening, in case you'd somehow forgot that football is coming home and made other plans.

42 minUruguay have taken their foot off the gas as we approach half time. The opening 40 minutes was played at a frantic pace and this is a sensible breather to avoid burnout in this searing heat.

44 minCavani must be licking his lips here. Russia have retreated into park the bus mode ahead of the break but if things open up in the second period he will expect to get among the goals.

45+1 minRussia have actually made a couple of ventures forward in first-half stoppage time. Uruguay are looking very compact though and are not going to gift the hosts a way back into this one.


3.52pmThe Russian bubble has well and truly been burst. They are two goals and a man down at the midway point of their Group A showdown with Uruguay who have, after a couple of pedestrian performances in their opening two matches, are starting to justify their tags of tournament dark horses.

3.54pmUPDATE: It has been just as eventful in Group A's other match. Mohamed Salah gave Egypt the lead against Saudi Araba and 45-year-old goalkeeper retained that advantage by saving a penalty Fahad Al-Muwallad, although Salman Al Faraj did make it 1-1 from the spot in stoppage time.

3.56pmAS IT STANDS: Uruguay are going to top Group A and set up an encounter with the runners-up of Group B, which is likely to be Portugal unless Ronaldo and company better Spain's result tonight. This inevitable loss will probably set up an encounter between the hosts and Spain.

3.58pmI cannot see any way back for Russia here. Uruguay have yet to concede a goal in this tournament and have actually kept six successive clean sheets, last conceding against Austria in November. Keeping the scoreline respectable and World Cup fever high at home is their best outcome from here.

4.00pmThose slumped shoulders look as though they have the weight of the nation on them. Putin will be on the phone...

4.02pmWill Uruguay boss Tabarez stick or twist here? The South Americans will need to be at their best against either Spain or Portugal in the last 16 so will the likes of Suarez, Bentancur and Godin get a rest in the second half? Or will Tabarez go for broke in the aim of building some serious momentum?

46 minKICKOFF: We are back underway at the Samara Arena, and the Russians have made a second change with Daler Kuzyayev of Zenit Saint Petersberg coming on for Yury Gazinskiy, who had been booked.

48 minA tackle from behind from Ilya Kutepov gives Uruguay a free-kick opportunity, 30 yards out in the centre of the goal. Cavani is all over it but strikes the set piece into the top of the wall.

50 minDzyuba wins a flick on above Godin but there is no Russian player running onto it. That is where the man disadvantage really shows, with Miranchuk now operating 20 yards deeper.

52 minRussia throw the centre-backs forward for a free kick and with Dzyuba also in the middle, there are some big targets for Aleksandr Samedov to aim at. The delivery, not for the first time, is way too heavy and runs behind for a goal kick.

54 minHalf-time sub Kuzyaev seems determined to make an impression. He bursts past Godin down the Russia right but can't catch up with the ball to prevent it from going behind for a goal kick.

56 minLovely move from the hosts as Fernandez and Dzyuba exhange a one-two on the edge of the box before the full-back shifts it left to Miranchuk, who was in space but had checked his run and thus the pass was too far in front of him.

58 minBentancur shows strength and skill to get the better of Samedov down the right, and he plays the ball on to Caceres who had made a 60-yard run from defence to join in the attack. Caceres returns the ball but Bentancur's shot is blocked. The 21-year-old has been very impressive indeed.

60 minSUBSTITUTION: Cherchesov makes his third and final change with still half an hour to play here. There may be a slight injury concern for Miranchuk who trots off to be replaced by Krasnador's Fyodor Smolov.

62 minWhether Uruguay have subconciously switched off, or Russia feel they have nothing more to lose, the hosts have been the better team in this second period. Fernandez has made a big difference down the right and Dzyuba remains a nuisance, but so far Muslera has been a spectator.

64 minSUBSTITUTION: With an eye on their next match, Tabarez brings off Bentancur and hands some minutes to Giorgian De Arrascaeta in midfield. That means a switch of shape for Uruguay to 4-4-2, with Caceres at right-back, although they may have made that change at half time.

66 minIt is just not happening for Cavani at the minute. Nandez carries the ball forward and times his through-ball perfectly, but the PSG striker waits too long to get a shot away and Ignashevich makes an important challenge on the penalty spot.

68 minThe South Americans are caught short at the back but Russia cannot take advantage as a slip from Fernandez slows the attack down, and it eventually dies completely at the feet of Kuzyayev.

70 minCavani is desperate to get on the scoresheet, working some space for a shot 22 yards from goal but the end product is a wild shot which swerves way wide of goal. The striker pounds the pitch in frustration.

72 minSUBSTITUTION: A second change for Uruguay, as former Atletico Madrid midfielder Cristian Rodriguez, now playing back home for Penarol, replaces the efficient Nandez in midfield.

74 minCHANCE! That was the chance for Russia! They pinch possession in the final third and feed Dzyuba, who checks back onto his left foot but cannot generate enough bend on his shot from 15 yards.

76 minA moment of concern for Russia as Torreira requires the attention of the physio. Tabarez has used two substitutions already and, although the Sampdoria midfielder appears okay to continue, he may be wise to use his final change and preserve the midfielder for the knockout stages.

78 minMakeshift right-back Cacares knocks in an early cross which is just over the head of Cavani.

80 minAn incredibly slack square pass from Kutepov presents Uruguay with a 2-on-1. Cavani releases Suarez down the left channel but the Barcelona forward does not take enough care with his return ball, which should have given his strike partner an easy tap-in but was overhit.

82 minSHOT! Rodriguez travels with the ball before unleashing a 25-yard piledriver which Akinfeev spills. Suarez is first to the rebound but can't bring it under control and Kudryashov recovers.

84 minDe Arrascaeta whips in a wicked corner and Caceres somehow wriggles free of his marker in a congested area, only to glance his header too finely, out for a goal kick. Russia have given as good as they got for much of the first half but Uruguay are now finishing firmly on the front foot.

85 minMuslera's 100th international cap may have been one of his easiest, but he has to be alert here to cut off a pass across his six-yard box, destined for Dzyuba, after Smolov had gone on a brilliant run through the left edge of the penalty area.

87 minCavani shows his selfish side by taking on a left-footed shot which is blocked, when he had several, better-place teammates up in support. The striker's desperation to score has got the better of him today and that may be one concern for Uruguay heading into the knockout stages.

89 minSAVE! Rodriguez takes aim from range again and this time Akinfeev has to tip it over his crossbar at full stretch.


90 minCavani finally gets his goal, stretching out a foot to knock home a rebound after Akinfeev had parried a powerful header from Godin. The smile on his face says it all, but there are no smiles on Russia faces as they slump to their heaviest ever World Cup defeat.

90+2 minSUBSTITUTION: Moments after his 43rd international goal, Cavani takes his applause as Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gomez comes on for the briefest of World Cup cameos.


5.03pmRussia are hit with a World Cup reality check as Uruguay run away 3-0 winners in Samara to seal top spot in Group A. It is not a killer blow for the hosts who are still through to the last 16, and they, along with Uruguay, will learn their opponents tonight following the Spain and Portugal matches.

Three wins and no goals conceded; Uruguay are on a roll and won't fear anyone in the knockout stages.

5.05pmThat's it from me, but be sure to return to Sports Mole this evening when we will have live coverage of Spain vs. Morocco and Portugal vs. Iran from Group B. Before then, catch up on Saudi Arabia's late win over Egypt in today's other Group A game here. Thanks for joining me for this one!

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Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez on November 13, 2017
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