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FIFA World Cup: Clinical Uruguay brush aside Mexico 1-0 to top Group A

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mex_uru3.jpgA disciplined performance from Uruguay saw them cruise past Mexico with a solitary goal in the third and final group game for both sides at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg today. While it was Mexico who began the game strongly, Uruguay held their own in defence before hitting back on the counter to take a crucial win and end up topping Group A.

Despite the loss, Mexico also go through to the knockouts, being placed second behind Uruguay, as hosts South Africa and last year's finalists France were knocked out of the tournament. Mexico though, would meet Argentina in all probabilities in the ‘Round of 16', and they would need to better their record against South American sides, if they are to harbour any hopes of an upset.

Both teams made one change apiece going into the final group game, with Mexico bringing in legendary striker Cuauhtemoc Blanco in place of the injured Carlos Vela while Uruguay getting Mauricio Victorino in place of centre-back Diego Godin, the latter being down with a virus. Though a draw was enough for both teams to progress, both managers showed intent in laying out attacking formations. Uruguay stuck with their 4-3-3 with Diego Forlan dropping deep to link up play and Edison Cavani running the channels, Luis Suarez operated in a central role up top looking for balls coming into the box. Mexico were just as adventurous, laying out a 4-3-3 with Blanco leading the attack, flanked on either side by Guillermo Franco and Giovanni Dos Santos.

Mexico were the better side in an otherwise scrappy start, with Franco making an early impression with a run into the Uruguayan box. Luis Suarez too was quick to beat the offside trap at the other end, unleashing a shot from inside the box which went just past the far post. A few minutes later, Franco got a great pass from Blanco on the edge of the box, only to be hacked down by the Uruguayan defence.

A minute later, he got another pass in the box, this time sending his shot high into the stands, as Mexico failed to make use of the early chances that came their way. Though both Forlan and Suarez troubled Oscar Perez, it was once again a Mexican in Andres Guardado who produced the first real chance of the game. Running with the ball from about 30-yards out, Guardado produced a screamer that smacked against the crossbar.

With the game turning increasingly scrappy, and with no quality whatsoever in the final third from both sides, Mexico's possession advantage bore no fruit. Both goalkeepers - Perez and Muslera - had come into the game in good form, and with nothing much to do, they were rarely tested. With Mexico leading the stats and with halftime approaching, it was ironically Uruguay, who took the lead to put the North American nation behind.

Luis Suarez broke the deadlock with a good run to reach Edinson Cavali's cross from the right, powering a fairly easy header in at the far post, from about 8-yards out. Mexico went in a goal behind at the break, and with South Africa leading 10-man France 2-0 at the Free State Stadium; the Mexican bench would have felt the jitters.


Mexico got the second half underway in search of the equalizer, with Blanco getting a shot in before Giovani followed in quick time. Uruguay regained possession with a Forlan free-kick though, and soon got the ball back into the Mexican half, putting added pressure on the El Tri. Javier Hernandez, Mexico's third substitution of the day, came on in the 61st minute as Javier Aguirre tried to get some fresh legs on the field.

mex_uru2.jpgWith Pablo Barrera impressing from the right wing, the equalizer should have come in the 64th minute as Rodriguez found the ball at the penalty spot, without anybody marking him. The defender though, managed to head wide from the short distance to the dismay of the Mexican supporters. Barrera continued to impress on the right wing, creating chances consistently only for the strikers to not make use of them.

With the clock ticking down, Uruguay looked happy with the 1-0 lead and with the hardworking Barrera not getting enough support from his counter-parts, the final few minutes did not yield much. The game drifted away to finally end in a 1-0 win for Uruguay, to the delight of both teams, as they both made it to the last 16 with the result.

Having played superb football all through the group stages, Uruguay ended up deserved winners and had Oscar Tabarez been more aggressive in their opener against France, one gets a feeling they would have ended up with all 9 points. They seem to have a rock-solid defence, and this, coupled with a strong attack should take them far in the tourney. Mexico, on the other hand, should definitely prove to be a handful for Argentina, especially if they can improve on their conversion percentage in the final third.


Uruguay: Muslera, Victorino, Lugano, Fucile, Pereira, Arevalo, Perez, Suarez (Fernandez 85'), Forlan, Alvaro Pereira (Scotti 77'), Cavani.

Mexico: Perez, Moreno (Castro 57'), Rodriguez, Salcido, Osorio, Marquez, Guardado (Barrera 45'), Blanco (Hernandez 63'), Torrado, Franco, Dos Santos.

Uruguay 1-0 Mexico (Luis Suarez 43')

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