In the second last-16 match in the FIFA World Cup in Russia, Portugal looked to slow down Uruguay’s momentum as both squads battled for position in the competition.
This clash pitted a tough South American squad going up against the European champions and a player hailed as one of the best of all time.
It was an intense clash which ended in Uruguay taking a big 2-1 victory which sees them march towards the quarterfinals where France await.
There are a lot of discussions that blossomed after 90 minutes of top-flight football from both nations and here are a few noteworthy points from the clash.
CAVANI AND SUAREZ CONNECTION
It is no secret that the biggest weapons that Uruguay possess are in their potent strike force of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez.
This was on full display when they ran rampant against the Portugal defence. Suarez may have been restricted from scoring, but his sublime passing display with Cavani resulted in a great goal to open up their clash against Portugal.
Cavani found Suarez in open space and volleyed the ball towards the Barcelona man. Suarez then returned the favour by swooping the ball towards the box with pinpoint accuracy to reach Cavani for a header that had no chance of being stopped.
After Portugal were able to level the score, Cavani wasted no time restoring the lead with a curling shot that showed just how much talent he has and Uruguay never looked back.
The two stars were connected throughout the match and if they continue this great run of form, they are very much likely to go deep into the World Cup stages.
CRISTIANO RONALDO CUT A FRUSTRATING FIGURE
Already with four goals after the group stages, the stage seemed set for Cristiano Ronaldo to take over the competition and help Portugal progress through the competition.
Unfortunately, he was not a big factor in their match against Uruguay and he failed to consistently threaten the rival defences.
In the first half, Uruguay slotted different defenders against Ronaldo depending on where he was on the pitch. From Diego Godin to Martin Caceres kept tabs on the Real Madrid man as they constantly switched places to defend Ronaldo whenever he would drift from left to right of the pitch.
His only real chance on goal was with a free kick attempt where he failed to beat the defensive wall. In total, Ronaldo had six shots on goal, and only one being on target. It was another disappointing end to his World Cup campaign.
At 33 years old, the window is slowly closing for him to find glory in the competition. He will be 37 by the next World Cup, and he might not be as dominant when the time comes.
URUGUAY FINALLY CONCEDE
Aside from a great strike partnership up front, Uruguay have been the best defensive team in the calendar year.
The last time Uruguay conceded was in November 2017 and Pepe finally broke through with a towering header after he was left unmarked in the Uruguay penalty box.
This goal lifted the spirits of the Portuguese squad as they levelled the game, but they could not use the momentum shift to get another goal as Uruguay’s defence continued to stay poise despite the one error and held their own despite conceding.
In fact, this could bode well for the South American squad as the pressure of keeping a clean sheet has finally been lifted and it shows just how balanced the team is on both ends that can help them move forward in the competition.
With defenders like Godin and Jose Gimenez on tap, Uruguay’s shape in the back line will almost always be flawless.
HARD-EARNED WIN TO FACE FRANCE
Many pundits hail Uruguay for their solid defence and electric offence. These things are certainly big points to help a team get the victory, but one thing that the team displayed is their tireless work ethic throughout 90 minutes.
Whenever Portugal threatened to attack, the Uruguayans made sure they were scrambling back on defence and had a man on Cristiano Ronaldo at all times.
Simply put, they were always playing with a sense of urgency knowing that every possession is important and can turn the tide to their favour.
This style should come in handy when they battle a very talented French squad in the quarterfinals.