Edinson Cavani of Uruguay finally breaks through with a goal. (Wallace Woon / REX / Shutterstock)

Uruguay (2-0-0, 6 points) vs. Russia (2-0-0, 6 points)

Group A, Samara Arena, Samara

Uruguay clinched Group A Monday with its third World Cup shutout, beating Russia, 3-0, in Samara.

Both teams already had secured spots in the round of 16 and Uruguay’s win means it will play the Group B second-place finisher, still to be determined, on June 30 in Sochi. Russia will play the Group B winner July 1 in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, a real home-field advantage. Spain, Portugal or Iran are the likely opponents to come out of Group B.

Uruguay wasted little time in scoring with Luis Suarez sending a free kick from just outside the box into the corner of the net in the 10th minute.

In the 23rd minute, Diego Laxalt’s long-distance shot glanced off Russia’s Denis Cheryshev and hit the net behind Igor Akinfeev. It was ruled an own goal and Uruguay led, 2-0, at the half.

“Obviously, the first few matches you’re tense and don’t want to make any mistakes or lose. One mistake can be very expensive,” Suarez said (via FIFA.com). “Today we came to the pitch with a different attitude and perspective and that’s made the pressure better. That’s what we saw on the pitch.”

Russia played more aggressively in the second half on the scorching day, despite being down to 10 men after Igor Smolnikov was sent off with a red card for tripping. Uruguay finally capitalized in injury time, with Edinson Cavani sending a rebound into the net for the third goal of the game.

Goal!

Edinson Cavani finally breaks through in the 90th minute, giving Uruguay a 3-0 lead with his first goal of this World Cup.

Uruguay turned on the energy late after relaxing early in the second half. Russia was pressing and playing more focused soccer, even with only 10 men, but could not muster a real scoring threat or miss.

With the win, Uruguay will play the Group B runner-up on June 30 in Sochi. Russia plays the Group B winner on July 1 in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, a huge home-field advantage.

Uruguay 2, Russia 0 (halftime)

Russia, with Denis Cheryshev coming out after an own goal, and Igor Smolnikov being sent off on a red card, looks as if it might be done. Uruguay opens the second half with Luis Suarez securing a free kick 25 yards from the goal, but Edinson Cavani’s kick can’t get past the wall even with Russia playing with only 10 men.

Goal!

With Uruguay pressing, a shot by Diego Laxalt ricochets off the leg of Denis Cheryshev and goes into the net past Igor Akinfeev, giving Uruguay a 2-0 lead in the 23rd minute. Originally credited to Laxalt, the score was changed to an own goal by Cheryshev.

Not long after, Mario Fernandes replaces Cheryshev, Russia’s best player. Read into that what you will, given that Russia is also playing a man down with Igor Smolnikov sent off with a red card.

Uruguay has already equaled its goal total from the first two games and Russia has given up more than it did in its first two matches.

Goal!

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez scores into the lower left corner on a close-in free kick in the 10th minute and takes off on a glorious celebratory slide.

Suarez now has seven World Cup goals in his career.

It’s a hot day in Samara, with the temperature hitting 91 at kickoff. To no one’s surprise, the crowd is loud and Uruguay has controlled the ball in the very early going.

The lineups

For Uruguay, Sebastian Coates, Diego Laxalt, Lucas Torreira and Nahitan Nandez replace Guillermo Varela, Jose Gimenez, Carlos Sanchez and Cristian Rodriguez. For Russia, there are three changes to the side that beat Egypt: Igor Smolnikov replaces Mario Fernandes, Fedor Kudriashov replaces Yuri Zhirkov, and Aleksey Miranchuk is in for Aleksandr Golovin, marking Miranchuk’s World Cup debut.


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Team profiles

Uruguay (2-0-0, 6 points)

  • Previous results: Uruguay beat both Egypt and Saudi Arabia by 1-0 scores.
  • Notable: Uruguay finished fourth eight years ago in South Africa and would be disappointed by any less success.
  • FIFA world ranking: 14. ELO world ranking: 10.

Russia (2-0-0, 6 points)

  • Previous results: Russia beat Saudi Arabia, 5-0, and Egypt, 3-1.
  • Notable: Russia’s first-game explosion gave it the most goals and best goal differential in the tournament and it’s already in the round of 16 — a nice accomplishment for a team that former player Andrei Kanchelskis called “the worst Russian team I have ever seen” before play began. A win or a draw will secure first place  in Group A.
  • FIFA world ranking: 70. ELO world ranking: 33.

Players to watch

Not sure why you’d look away from Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, for his skill and for the controversy he seems to generate, even though he has only one goal. Also keep an eye on Rodrigo Bentancur, the 20-year-old Juventus midfielder. For Russia, midfielder Aleksandr Golovin has played a key role in its surge, but he is out, replaced by Aleksey Miranchuk.

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