MX23RW : Saturday, February 23 19:50:21

Live Commentary: Uruguay 1-0 Saudi Arabia - as it happened

Relive Sports Moles's live text coverage of Uruguay's 1-0 win against Saudi Arabia, as Luis Suarez's strike proved decisive in Roston-on-Don.
Live Commentary: Uruguay 1-0 Saudi Arabia - as it happened
© Reuters

Luis Suarez scored his 52nd international goal on his 100th appearance as Uruguay beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 in Rostov-on-Don on Wednesday afternoon.

The Barcelona striker's tap-in following an error from goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais proved decisive, as the Green Falcons struggled to create any real openings.

Victory for La Celeste sends them through to the last 16 of the World Cup, where they will be joined by hosts Russia.

Relive how the 90 minutes of action unfolded with our extensive updates below.

3.00pmHello and welcome to Sports Moles's live text coverage of the World Cup clash between Uruguay and Saudi Arabia at the Rostov Arena. Victory for La Celeste this afternoon will see both them and tournament hosts Russia through to the last 16 with a game to spare, while the Green Falcons must get off the mark if they are to avoid elimination.

3.02pmGROUP B RESULT! Before focusing on some team news in Rostov, there is news of a full-time result from elsewhere to bring you. Portugal have defeated Morocco 1-0 at the Luzhniki Stadium to take a giant stride towards the last 16, while at the same time knocking their opponents out of the competition. One of 32 teams have fallen; will two more follow in the next couple of hours?


STARTING XI: Muslera; Varela, Godin, Gimenez, Caceres; Sanchez, Bentancur, Vecino, Rodriguez; Suarez, Cavani

SUBS: Campana, M.Silva, Nandez, Arrascaeta, Stuani, G.Silva, Torreira, Maxi Pereira, Laxalt, Maxi Gomez, Coates, Urreta

3.06pmStarting with a look at the Uruguay XI, manager Oscar Tabarez - taking charge of his 17th World Cup fixture this afternoon - has gone with the side that many predicted. The only changes from the 1-0 win over Egypt come in the wide areas, where Carlos Sanchez and Cristian Rodriguez are given the nod on the right and left wings respectively, taking over from the ineffective Nahitan Nandez and Giorgian De Arrascaeta.

3.08pmSanchez and Rodriguez gave La Celeste a little something extra when coming off the bench in the slender victory last time out, and they have been rewarded with their first starts in the competition. The other headline news is that Luis Suarez retains his spot alongside Edinson Cavani in attack for his 100th senior international cap - the 100th Uruguayan player to achieve that feat.

3.10pmThe backline remains unchanged, meaning that Atletico Madrid pair Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez - the matchwinner against Egypt - have a chance to further strengthen their partnership. Further back, Fernando Muslera is named in goal, while central midfield is comprised of Rodrigo Bentancur and Matias Vecino of Juventus and Inter Milan respectively. This Uruguay side now appears to have a nice balance to it.


STARTING XI: Al-Owais; Al-Breik, Osama Hawsawi, Al Bulaihi, Al-Shahrani; Bahbir, Al-Faraj, Otayf, Al-Jassam, Al Dawsari; Al-Muwallad

SUBS: Al-Muaiouf, Al-Harbi, Omar Hawsawi, Al-Shehri, Al-Sahlawi, Al-Khaibri, Kanno, Al-Khaibari, Al-Moqahwi, Asiri, Motaz Hawsawi, Al-Mosailem

3.14pmIn terms of Juan Antonio Pizzi's selection, the experienced boss has changed goalkeeper following the crushing 5-0 loss to Russia last week. Mohammed Al Owais is brought into the side in place of Abdullah Al Mayouf, who did not exactly cover himself in glory at the Luzhniki Stadium six days ago. Fahad Al-Muwallad is used as the central striker, meanwhile, having been brought on for the final 30 minutes last time out.

3.16pmYahya Al Shehri produced an ineffective 74-minute display against Russia and is another casualty this afternoon, as Pizzi rings the changes. All-in-all the Saudi boss, who has only been in place since November, has made four alterations, including to his front and forward line. Hattan Bahbir is brought into the starting fold, while Salem Al Dawsari retains his place alongside him.

3.18pmMohammed Al Burayk and Yasir Al Shahrani continue to operate from the full-back positions, but there is a change in the middle as Osama Hawsawi will be joined by Ali Albulayhi - an unused sub last time out - for this clash, with Omar Hawsawi dropping down to the bench. Call it ruthless if you will, but Pizzi was always likely to chop and change today and that has proved to be the case.

3.20pmBarcelona striker Luis Suarez, pictured here after missing a glorious chance against Egypt last week, starts up top for Uruguay for his 100th senior international cap. La Celeste have made two changes from their last outing, both coming in the wide positions, while Saudi Arabia show four alterations from their 5-0 loss at the hands of tournament hosts Russia.

Luis Suarez reacts to a missed chance during the World Cup game between Egypt and Uruguay on June 15, 2018© Reuters

3.22pmUruguay, positioned at 14th in the latest FIFA rankings, are participating in their 13th World Cup and have two trophies to their name. It goes without saying, then, that they boast a fair bit of pedigree when it comes to this showpiece event, and they were the strong favourites to progress out of Group A as winners. Two wins from two from Russia, though, has put just a little pressure on La Celeste.

3.24pmRussia not only won their opening two matches, but they did so with some swagger. That is more than can be said for Uruguay, who required an 89th minute header from Jose Gimenez to overcome a Mohamed Salah-less Egypt in their first outing. With Russia to come in their final group match, this is a chance for Tabarez's charges to join their opponents on six points and potentially make up the goal difference.

3.26pmProgressing into the last 16 will not be a problem for Uruguay, and they can achieve that target within the next few hours if all goes well in Rostov-on-Don. As it turns out, finishing second to Russia may not necessarily be disastrous, either, as it remains to be seen whether Spain or Portugal will top Group B. One way or another, that first knockout-round tie will be significantly more difficult for Uruguay than these three group games.

3.28pmThere is no doubt that Uruguay were dealt a dream hand when the draw was made in December. The two-time world champions face, in chronological order, teams ranked 45th, 67th and 70th. Beating the first of those teams proved a tricky task, mind, and manager Tabarez admitted after the game that an improvement is required if they are to really leave their mark on this summer's competition.

3.30pmUruguay were clearly the better side against Egypt in Yekaterinburg, but the bottom line is that they did not take their chances when they arrived. Luis Suarez was guilty of squandering four presentable opportunities, while strike partner Edinson Cavani was also guilty of fluffing his lines. Many people's dark horses in Russia, a lot more is expected of La Celeste when they enter the Rostov Arena field today.

3.32pmThe South American side endured a pretty miserable 2017 on the whole, losing three qualifiers in a row at one point once their place in Russia was all but sealed. By taking their foot off the gas, though, they left the door open for others to pounce and a final-day draw against Venezuela was required to get them over the line. Now that they are here, Suarez and Co. are expected to reach at least the last 16.

3.34pmPlenty of focus had been on Barcelona striker Suarez and Paris Saint-Germain's Cavani heading into the tournament, and rightly so - they scored 31 and 38 goals respectively last season at club level. Adding to those tallies proved to be the impossible task against Egypt, however, while the freshened-up midfield of Bentancur and Vecino also left a lot to be desired. Not that it mattered - three points were salvaged in the end.

3.36pmUruguay finished fourth in the 2010 World Cup and reached the last 16 four years ago - a solid return for a group considered a golden generation of sorts. In Cavani and Suarez they have two of the best strikers anywhere on the planet; their centre-backs boast plenty of experience and success with Atletico Madrid; and in Bentancur and Vecino they have a couple of very talented midfielders.

3.38pmThe real challenge for Uruguay will surely come after today's game, however, as they do battle with Russia for top spot in Group A and then face one of Spain or Portugal - if all goes to plan - in the last 16. La Celeste have won all three of their previous World Cup matches against Asian opposition, scoring five and conceding one, and they head into today's match on a four-game winning run overall.

3.40pmDID YOU KNOW? Uruguay have not won their opening two World Cup matches since 1954, which they can achieve today with all three points in Rostov-on-Don. La Celeste have lost just one of their last nine World Cup group games, meanwhile, and have won five of the last six. Furthermore, they have reached the knockout rounds in four of the last five finals they have been involved in.

3.42pmOscar Tabarez has spent 12 years in charge of Uruguay and is certainly no stranger to this competition, with this his 17th World Cup match. The two-time world champions are as high as 14th in the latest FIFA rankings; significantly higher than Egypt (45), Saudi Arabia (67) and Russia (70). Victory today and Tabarez can already prepare for the last 16.

Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez on November 13, 2017© Reuters

3.44pmSaudi Arabia are heading for an early World Cup exit following their 5-0 loss to Russia last week. That result, coupled with all three points for the tournament hosts against Egypt last night, means that Group A is pretty clear-cut. The Green Falcons also had a real scare with their plane when arriving in Rostov, so it is fair to say that their campaign has not exactly gone to plan.

3.46pmThe Green Falcons are the lowest-ranked of the teams to have qualified for Russia 2018, and that told in their opening Group A match. Russia were two goals ahead at the interval and added a further three in the final 20 minutes of the game - the biggest winning margin for a host nation in their opening World Cup fixture since 1934. The Saudis failed to register a shot on target and gifted possession to their opponents all too often.

3.48pmIf the picture seems bleak for the Saudis, that is because it is. They have now lost four of their opening five matches at the World Cup, drawing the other in that sequence. Following that loss to Russia, the number of headed goals conceded stands at 14 since their first participation in 1994, which is five more than any other side. Defending set-pieces and crosses is not their forte.

3.50pmPizzi, who became Saudi Arabia's 40th manager in 30 years when appointed last November, admitted after the defeat to Russia that plenty has to change heading into this game. The four alterations made suggest that he has attempted to rectify things, but the decision not to compete in the Gulf Cup at the end of last year is starting to look strange. The Saudis have looked very disjointed.

3.52pmThe Green Falcons have now lost four matches in a row - in stark contract to Uruguay who have won their last four - having also tasted defeat at the hands of Italy, Peru and Germany. Going further back, they have won two of nine matches since the end of February, coming against Algeria and Greece. Saudi Arabia are known for being a well-drilled side, but they need a goal this afternoon so that could change.

3.54pmSaudi Arabia are on an 11-game winless streak at the World Cup, stretching back to their first participation 24 years ago, and they have avoided defeat in just two of those matches. Just one clean sheet has been kept in their last 14 games in the finals, meanwhile, and they have failed to net in eight of their last 10. No great surprise, then, that they have finished bottom of their group three tournaments running.

3.56pmPREVIOUS MEETINGS! These two sides have never previously met at the World Cup, with this Saudi Arabia's first encounter against a South American side in the showpiece competition. The Green Falcons are unbeaten in their only two previous showdowns with Uruguay, however, having drawn one and won one of their two friendlies on home soil. The most recent of those was a 1-1 draw in 2014.

3.58pmWith kickoff now just a couple of minutes away in Rostov-on-Don, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.

Oscar Tabarez: "Football is something that concerns people and these are not robots who can be programmed to deliver in a certain way. We have to be understanding and supportive in times like this; [Suarez] is the first person to be unhappy with his performance. We have to offer them the tools so on bad days they can overcome that. When we give them advice the most important thing is to be serene, cool and calm. We all agree perhaps he didn't have the best of matches against Egypt but he has so much potential."

Juan Antonio Pizzi: "It's clear that we have other priorities, beyond winning the game, we have to show our competitive ability. Besides tactics, we have to show our ability to fight. It's the only way to play a game of football. Even more so against a team that make that a key part of their game. The least we can do is fight with the same energy as them. I'm the responsible one, we have to make up for the feeling from the first game," he said."We're prepared to play a good game tomorrow."

Saudi Arabia manager Juan Antonio Pizzi on May 28, 2018© Reuters

1 minKICKOFF! We are up and running at the Rostov Arena. Three points for Uruguay will see both them and Russia through to the last 16 of the World Cup, with Saudi Arabia at risk of exiting the tournament after just two games.

3 minA draw would be enough to keep Group A alive heading into the final round of fixtures. Uruguay will see that as a disastrous result, having been tipped by make it far in Russia. Luis Suarez with an early shot that strikes Ali Al-Bulaihi.

5 minA decent delivery into the Uruguay box is dealt with by Godin. A fairly evenly-matched start to this match, with La Celeste's best moment so far seeing Luis Suarez getting forward and having a shot blocked aside.

7 minThe Saudis did play some decent football at times against Russia before completely falling away late on. Their quick midfield passing is on display in Roston-on-Don but, much like in that 5-0 loss, it is not leading to chances.

9 minThe Green Falcons are enjoying a few minutes on the ball. Uruguay are not looking too threatened at the moment, but they have yet to get a foothold in the match, much in the same way as we witnessed against Egypt five days ago.

11 minUruguay are struggling to get a hold of the ball at the moment. Al Dawsari showed too much of the ball to Luis Suarez, though, and the Saudi midfielder had no choice but to bring his opponent down.

13 minSHOT! Uruguay's best moment of the match so far, and it comes through another of those searching Bentancur passes from deep. Martin Caceres was in behind down the left and pulled it back for Cavani, who skied his shot from 10 yards.

15 minThe South American nation are starting to grow into the match now. Luis Suarez, as he so often does, pounces on a nothing ball and sends a deflected shot into the side-netting. The officials missed the touch - a goal kick has been awarded.

17 minNormal service has been resumed. Uruguay had a two-minute spell on top, creating a good opening for Cavani and then that Suarez shot into the side-netting, but either side their play has been incredibly disjointed.

19 minBetter from Uruguay, as they inject some pace into their attack and win a first corner of the match. A disappointing end to the attack, though, with Sanchez collecting a short corner but failing to truly trouble rookie keeper Mohammed Al Owais.

21 minSaudi Arabia are given a chance to counter, but when the shot eventually arrived it flew high over the bar from a wide position. Up the other end we go, and Uruguay win themselves a second corner in the space of a few minutes.


24 minWe saw it repeatedly in that opening-game thrashing at the hands of Russia, and Saudi Arabia's inability to defend crosses into the box has cost them once again. A Carlos Sanchez corner from the left was flapped at by Mohammed Al Owais and Luis Suarez had the simplest of finishes from close range.

26 minPizzi must be incredibly frustrated. His side have looked good in possession and did not really look like conceding prior to that Suarez strike. Cavani has just got another shot away, with Ali Albulayhi producing a big block.

28 minSAVE! Another example of why Saudi Arabia may just snatch something from this match. Hattan Bahabri really puts his foot through the ball on this occasion and Fernando Muslera was happy to push it over the crossbar.

30 minEverything between the boxes is fine for the Saudis - they just cannot finish off moves and cannot defend! Still, that Hattan Bahabri drive was their first attempt on target in this summer's finals.

32 minCHANCE! A big chance comes and goes for Hattan Bahabri, who struggled to keep his composure in front of goal. A cross from the left was met by the attacking midfielder, but the half-volley was well off target.

34 minThat goal for Luis Suarez was his 52nd for Uruguay on his landmark 100th cap. There has not been a great deal between the sides on the whole either side of that strike, other than Saudi Arabia's inability to defend from set pieces.

36 minI would argue that Saudi Arabia have been the better side in the opening 36 minutes of this Group A affair. Abdullah Otayf is picked out on the edge of the box but, after refusing to take on the shot first time, he is eventually dispossessed.

38 minOscar Tabarez still does not appear to have found the right formula. His side may be on course for three more points, but this has been another below-par showing from La Celeste and they will be happy to hear the half-time whistle.

40 minSalem Al Dawsari, who featured for 33 minutes at the end of Villarreal's La Liga campaign last time out, blasts a shot well over the crossbar from a good 35 yards. The Green Falcons steadily building some pressure in Rostov-on-Don.

42 minAli Albulayhi with an impressive challenge on Suarez to prevent the striker from racing in behind. Ten seconds before that tackle, Taisir Al-Jassim went to ground clutching his hamstring after failing to win the ball at full stretch.

44 minSAUDI ARABIA SUB! Taisir Al-Jassim's afternoon - and indeed his World Cup - is over after pulling up with that hamstring injury. Juan Antonio Pizzi has turned to Hussein Al-Moghawi to fill the gap left by the departing Al-Jassim.


4.48pmUruguay take a one-goal lead into the interval at the Rostov Arena through Luis Suarez's 52nd international goal. La Celeste have been well off the pace in the opening 45 minutes, though, and can consider themselves a little fortunate to be in front.

4.51pmUruguay did not get going in the first half and had just a skied Edinson Cavani shot from 10 yards to show for their chances prior to Luis Suarez's opener. Much like in their opening-game thrashing at the hands of Russia, Saudi Arabia were all over the place when Carlos Sanchez's corner arrived into the area, and Suarez was there to pounce once Mohammed Al-Owais failed to collect.

4.54pmCavani netted 38 times in a Paris Saint-Germain shirt last season but he was made to wait for his first goal of these finals, seeing his only shot in the opening 45 minutes blocked by Ali Albulayhi. The Green Falcons were unlucky to be behind at the midway point, having squandered a couple of good openings through Hattan Bahabri. The Al-Shabab midfielder, one of four changes to the Saudis' starting lineup, had one strike helped over the bar by Fernando Muslera and then failed to keep a half-volley from closer range on target.

4.57pmSaudi Arabia have already been forced into one change due to the hamstring injury sustained by Taisir Al-Jassim. Juan Antonio Pizzi will therefore likely hold off from making any further alterations, but what about opposite number Oscar Tabarez?

URUGUAY SUBS: Campana, M.Silva, Nandez, Arrascaeta, Stuani, G.Silva, Torreira, Maxi Pereira, Laxalt, Maxi Gomez, Coates, Urreta

SAUDI ARABIA SUBS: Al-Muaiouf, Al-Harbi, Omar Hawsawi, Al-Shehri, Al-Sahlawi, Al-Khaibri, Kanno, Al-Khaibari, Al-Moqahwi, Asiri, Motaz Hawsawi, Al-Mosailem

Cristian Rodriguez takes a shot during the World Cup game between Egypt and Uruguay on June 15, 2018© Reuters

46 minRESTART! We are back under way for the second half in Roston-on-Don. Uruguay have looked disjointed for a game-and-a-half now in these finals - a vast improvement is needed from the previous winners of this competition.

48 minAs mentioned before the match, Uruguay lost three qualifiers in a row when the pressure was off last year. It may well be a case of their standards being lowered in Russia against lower-calibre opposition. As things stand, they are through to the last 16.

50 minThe good news for Pizzi is that his side are well and truly in this match with 40 minutes left to play. The longer it remains like this the more tense things will become. That could change shortly, though, because Uruguay have a well-positioned free kick.

52 minSAVE! Luis Suarez took on the free kick from more than 25 yards out, sending the ball around the wall and on target. It took a touch on its way through and Mohammed Al-Owais could only parry it - not the most convincing of goalkeeping.

54 minSuarez is one-on-one with Hawsawi inside the box, just the way he likes it, only to be penalised for a little shove on his opponent. The second half is proving to be just as frustrating as the first for Oscar Tabarez's charges.

56 minThis has not been the most memorable of group-stage clashes, summed up by Cavani's terrible attempted pass to nobody in particular a few moments ago. Uruguay will not care a great deal if it stays this way - they are through to the next round.

58 minVery little to report in terms of attacking action in this second half. Suarez's deflected free kick was pushed to safety but, that aside, it has been a pretty disappointing affair. Oscar Tabarez is about to make a couple of changes.

60 minURUGUAY SUBS! Diego Laxalt and Lucas Torreira, who is apparently on the brink of joining Arsenal from Sampdoria, come on for Cristian Rodriguez and Matias Vecino. Can they provide some inspiration for Uruguay?

62 minSanchez with a brilliant cross into the middle, which Laxalt could not quite get on the end of just moments after being brought off the bench. La Celeste need to step things up and they appear to have done that with those changes.

64 minCHANCE! Edison Cavani delays his cross for a good four or five seconds before picking out Carlos Sanchez. The midfielder should have been doing better, as he could only direct his header over the Saudis' goal.

66 minTabarez's double change has helped Uruguay grab a foothold on the match. Saudi Arabia are still very much in this one, though, and they are looking dangerous through Al-Muwallad. This is a far tighter match than expected.

68 minA little over 20 minutes left to play at the Rostov Arena and still Uruguay are being made to sweat. Tabarez would love a second goal around about now, which would likely kill Saudi Arabia off for good - not just in this match, but also in terms of their World Cup participation.

70 minCHANCE! This has to go down as a chance for Martin Caceres, who met Carlos Sanchez's cross from the right but could not keep it on target. La Celeste are starting to turn the screw a little now in search of a second goal.

72 minUruguay are not looking comfortable at all. There is a point there waiting to be claimed for the Green Falcons if they can just create one killer chance. They have less than 20 minutes to do so, or else they will be out of the competition.

74 minCavani is furious with the referee after failing to be awarded a free kick when sent crashing to the ground. Saudi Arabia are the side doing most of the attacking now, but their whole game appears based on keeping hold of possession.

76 minSAUDI ARABIA SUB! Hatan Bahbri had a couple of decent opportunities in the first half, neither of which he could take. Mohammed Kanu is on in his place for the final 15 minutes of the match in Rostov-on-Don.

78 minUruguay win a free kick, which they are happy to take their time over in an attempt to run down some time. The ball fell to the feet of Caceres towards the back post, but he failed to get any real contact on the blocked shot.

80 minSAUDI ARABIA SUB! Mohammad Al Sahlawi has been brought on by Pizzi for his side's third and final change. Fahad Al-Muwallad is the player to make way after putting in a good shift up top. Uruguay still have one available substitution.

82 minCLOSE! Lucas Torreira's shot was heading well off target, only to hit Edinson Cavani and spin agonisingly close to the Saudi goal. Al-Owais was well beaten in the end but the ball crept wide of the far post to his relief.

84 minURUGUAY SUB! This match has become incredibly stop-start over the past 10 minutes. The sixth and final change of the match is made - Nahitan Nandez is on in place of Carlos Sanchez for the closing stages.

86 minSAVE! Good save from Al-Owais to keep his side in the match. Cavani ran a good 50 yards before being dispossessed, only to win the ball back inside the box. The striker got a shot away, too, but Al-Owais was equal to it down low.

88 minUruguay have at least come close to netting a second in the last 15 minutes, even if they have been well below the levels we expected in Russia. Tabarez will now gear his side for a top-of-the-table clash against Russia next Monday.

90 minSaudi Arabia win a corner kick but they fail to make the most of it. Four minutes have been added on, but the Green Falcons have created far too little so far today to suggest that we will have a late twist in Roston-on-Don.

90+2 minSAVE! We are two minutes into the four added on at the end of this pretty poor contest. Mohammad Al-Sahlawi cuts inside and manages to get a tame shot away, which deflected down the middle for Fernando Muslera to gather.


5.57pmUruguay have booked their place in the last 16 of the World Cup thanks to a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia in Rostov-on-Don. For the second match running La Celeste were far from convincing, but the bottom line is that they are through to the knockouts with a game to spare.

5.59pmThat concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events from the Rostov Arena. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here, while updates from the Group B clash between Iran and Spain can be found here. Thanks for joining!

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Saudi Arabia manager Juan Antonio Pizzi on May 28, 2018
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