Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani scored a goal each and Uruguay went on to defeat Russia 3-0 on Monday, finishing undefeated in group play and handing the host nation its first loss of the World Cup.
Both teams were already assured of spots in the knockout round, but Uruguay’s victory put it at the top of Group A and looking toward a match in Sochi on Saturday against the second-place finisher from Group B.
Uruguay, which also benefited from an own-goal in the first half, had its third straight shutout of the tournament after consecutive 1-0 victories over Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
By advancing to the round of 16 with victories over Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Russia secured its best World Cup showing in the post-Soviet era.
But Uruguay — ranked No. 14 in the world — posed a far greater challenge to the hosts.
Suarez, who seems to have put past World Cup controversies behind him, scored with a low shot from just outside the box that sailed past the wall of Russian players and into the right corner of the goal. The Barcelona striker blew a kiss to the corner of Samara Stadium where most of La Celeste’s cheering supporters were seated.
Uruguay went up 2-0 over Russia on an own-goal — the sixth of the World Cup to tie the tournament record. Midfielder Diego Laxalt’s shot from long range deflected off Denis Cheryshev’s foot and past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
Russia, the lowest ranked team in the field at No. 70, went down to 10 men after right back Igor Smolnikov received a second yellow card in the 36th minute. Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov immediately took off Cheryshev for defender Mario Fernandes.
Cavani scored in the 90th minute and was taken out a short time later. The Paris Saint-Germain forward put a rebound into the left corner of the net after Diego Godin’s header was parried by Akinfeev.
Uruguay was making its 12th appearance at the World Cup, which it won in 1930 and 1950. More recently, the team finished fourth in South Africa in 2010 and made the round of 16 in Brazil four years ago.
Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira made his first start of the World Cup. Since the 22-year-old Torreira has been in Russia there have been persistent rumors that he is headed to Arsenal.
Russia left back Yuri Zhirkov was taken out of the match against Egypt because of an ankle injury but was available as a substitute on Monday. 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.
Defender Jose Maria Gimenez didn’t play for Uruguay because of a right thigh injury. Gimenez scored in the team’s opening match of the tournament, a 1-0 victory over Egypt. The team did not say when he might return.
Both teams will face the top finishers from Group B, which includes Portugal, Spain, Iran and Morocco. By finishing second, Russia will play at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow against the Group A winner.
Because Russia had the advantage in goal differential from its first two group matches, it would have won the group with a draw.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
Russia’s home-country advantage could only carry it so far against its more experienced opponents. But the Russians had recent history to think they were up to the challenge: The teams played to a 1-1 draw in a 2012 friendly in Moscow.
Suarez scored in that match, and thwarted Russia in this one, too. His goal on Monday was the 53rd of his career, in his 101st appearance. It was his second goal of the tournament after also scoring in the 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia.
No Uruguayan players have been handed yellow cards in Russia. The only other team at the tournament without a yellow is Iceland.