Suarez inspires Uruguay to win Group A over Russian Federation

Uruguay's Luis Suarez and Uruguay's Martin Caceres arrive to Uruguay's official training on the eve of the group A match between Russia and Uruguay at the 2018 soccer World Cup at the Samara Arena in Samara Russia Sunday

Slowly but surely Uruguay are picking up pace at the World Cup and there's a belief that they can go far in this summer's tournament.

Luis Suarez grabbed the lead for Uruguay in the 10th minute with a clever free-kick that fooled goalkeeper Roman Akinfeev and sailed into the bottom corner.

There was a party atmosphere around the scorching Samara Arena before kick-off, with fans having travelled from all over the country keen to share in the good feeling surrounding their national team. Uruguay prevailed in a shootout, and Suarez was marked as a dirty player. "They're playing at home for their public, so it will be a great atmosphere", Tabarez said.

With striker Fedor Smolov added to the mix as a replacement for Alexei Miranchuk, Russia battled for a way back into the game in sweltering heat, but as Uruguay skipper Diego Godin marshalled his defensive troops, chances were few and far between. More recently, the team finished fourth in South Africa in 2010 and made the round of 16 in Brazil four years ago.

Cherchesov also criticised his players for not being well prepared mentally. "We are preparing for this game exactly the same way", he said at the press conference.

Russian Federation nearly equalised two minutes later when Artem Dzyuba's knockdown picked out Cheryshev, whose first-time volley from 18 yards out was saved by Fernando Muslera. The Russian offensive unit as a whole was a pale shadow of the attacking force that took them to the top of the goalscoring charts after two games. Russian Federation meanwhile have much to think about and improve on if they want to have any hope of getting a result against the better teams and go deep into the knockout rounds. Teammate Alan Dzagoev was out again because of a hamstring injury sustained in the opener against Saudi Arabia but he may return for the knockout round.

Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, who is 45, took the field for his team's final group match to set the record. Ranked No. 14, La Celeste defeated Egypt 1-0 in its tournament opener and then had the same result against Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

After the break, Russia's 10 men composed themselves and at least managed to wrest back some control of the match, with Uruguay always looking unsafe but perhaps happy to concede possession and protect their lead. Both Spain and Portugal had a goal difference of plus-1, but Spain scored six goals in its three group matches while Portugal had five.

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