Luis Suarez’s superb early free-kick fired Uruguay to top spot of Group A as they secured a 3-0 win over hosts Russia.

The Barcelona striker opened the scoring with a low strike from just outside the box before a Denis Cheryshev own goal and a late Edinson Cavani tap-in secured a commanding win for Uruguay.

Oscar Tabarez’s much-improved side ended Group A with maximum points and will face the Group B runners-up, likely either Portugal or Spain, in the round of 16. Russia, for whom this loss was a record defeat at a World Cup. will face the Group B winners but will struggle greatly if they cannot rediscover the effervescence that took them to wins in their first two games.

Though Russia had eased past Saudi Arabia and Uruguay in their first two matches it took only 10 minutes for their bubble to be burst in Samara. Rodrigo Bentancur had been hacked down by Yuri Gazinskiy inside the D, too close for Suarez to get his shot up and over the wall.

He had a more elegant solution, aided by Edinson Cavani clearing his some space on the edge of the wall. Suarez struck a low effort around the barrier. Igor Akinfeev had already shifted his weight in the opposite direction and was unable to get down quickly enough as the Barcelona striker struck for the third time in the tournament.

Russia rallied and moments after the 10th minute opener Denis Cheryshev, teed up by Artem Dzyuba, went close with a volley hit too close to Fernando Muslera in the Uruguay goal.

Dzyuba ought to have done better from a corner, his unchallenged header crashing into the turf before looping over Muslera, and his profligacy proved to be costly as Uruguay doubled their lead midway through the half.

Lucas Torreira’s corner was flicked away to Diego Laxalt; the Russian rearguard charged out but in vain as the Genoa left-back’s shot flicked wickedly off Cheryshev, who would be credited with the own goal, and beyond Akinfeev.

Any lingering hopes of a Russian comeback were eliminated when Igor Smolnikov picked up a second yellow card, scything through Laxalt and leaving his team-mates facing 54 minutes a man short.

Smolnikov’s departure allowed Uruguay to cruise through a second half lacking in incident, at least until Cavani flicked home after Diego Godin's header from a corner had been saved in the 90th minute, as both sides’ conserved their energy for their round of 16 ties, both of which take place on Saturday.

Source: Standard

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