World Cup hosts Russia were handed a crushing 3-0 defeat by the two time World Cup champions Uruguay in their last Group A encounter at Samara stadium on Monday. Uruguay now travel to Sochi to play their Knock-out match after finishing the group stage as table-toppers. They will play their Group 16 match on June 30, Saturday against the Group B runners-up while Russia will face the Group B table-toppers at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on July 1, Sunday.
A pinpoint free-kick from Suarez and an own goal from Denis Cheryshev put Uruguay 2-0 up within the first 23 minutes of the Group A encounter before Edinson Cavani added a late third to secure the 3-0 win at Samara stadium.
This is the first time Uruguay have won all the three group games at World Cup finals. The South Americans will play their last-16 tie in Sochi this Saturday against the Group B runners-up, either Spain, Portugal or Iran.
Russia, who had sealed their spot for the last 16 before the match, will have the consolation of a day's extra rest and huge support at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium when they face the Group B winners on Sunday.
Uruguay stamped their authority early in the group decider. When Russian midfielder Iury Gazinsky fouled Rodrigo Bentancur on the edge of the area, Suarez expertly placed the direct free-kick in the gap between the out-stretched glove of Russia's goalkeeper and the post on 10 minutes.
Uruguay doubled their lead when Diego Laxalt's shot took a wicked deflection off the leg of defender Cheryshev and flew past the despairing Akinfeev on 23 minutes. It was heart-breaking for Cheryshev, who scored twice in the 5-0 trouncing of Saudi Arabia in the opening game.
To compound Russia's problems, Smolnikov was sent off after scything down Laxalt just eight minutes after his first booking.
Smolnikov, one of three changes from the team which enjoyed a 3-1 win over Egypt, was on the verge of tears as he trudged off with the home crowd stunned into near silence. Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov responded by taking Cheryshev off and slotting Brazilian-born Mario Fernandes into the vacant right-back berth.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, Russia had opportunities to get back in the game as they kept battling.
With 20 minutes remaining, the video assistant referee turned down Russian appeals for a penalty after Artem Dzyuba appeared to be elbowed in the face by Diego Godin.
Moments later, a badly-hit clearance kick by Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera was snapped up by the Russians and Dzyuba fired just over the bar from 14 metres out. Cavani sealed the win on 90 minutes by tapping home the rebound, after Akinfeev had parried Godin's header.Here are the live updates:
Minute 90+4': Final whistle! Russia end their group stage campaign with a reality check as Uruguay defeat the hosts three goals to nil.
Mintue 90: GOAL!!!! Finally, Cavani scores his first goal. Godin heads in a corner and Akinfeev thwarts the ball only to see Cavani pouncing on the ball and kicking it in to make it 3-0.
Minute 87: Cavani weaves his way through Russia's defenders but sees his effort deflected over the bar. Cavani can't seem o find his goal.
Minute 85: Smolov goes down the left side with a brilliant run and cuts back a low cross across the face of goal but Muslera pounces in and saves it. Not a good day for Russia.
Minute 80: 10 minutes of regular time remain. The Samara stadium is abuzz with the Russian supporters cheering their team to keep their head up. It remains to be seen if the hosts can stage a miracle.
Minute 74: Muslera sloppily concedes possesion and Russia break into the unguarded Uruguay defence. Dzyuba cuts back onto his left foot and shoots the ball wide. The striker looks lonely and off-colour today.
Minute 73: Second change for Uruguay. C. Rodriguez (in) comes off the bench to replace N. Nandez (out)
Minute 71: Play resumes as VAR denies Russia's call for a penalty.
Minute 69: Play is stopped as the VAR is checking for a potential foul on Dzyuba by Godin inside the penalty box. Russia are expecting a penalty.
Minute 67: Russia continue to put Uruguay under pressure but the hosts are unable break the Uruguay defence and Muslera remains unthreatened on his 100th appearance for Uruguay. Russian fans are cheering every single move by the hosts.
Minute 61: Substitution for Uruguay. Rodrigo Bentancur goes out as G Arrascaeta comes in.
Minute 60: Russia make their Third and final change for Russia, Smolov comes in for Miranchuk(out).
Minute 59: Bentacur sees yellow card. The first yellow card for Uruguay in Fifa World Cup 2018.
Minute 53: With Russia down to 10-man and Cheryshev substituted, Russia has to revert to a 4-2-2-1 formation. Dzyuba is all alone in the front with the support of Miranchuk and Samedov from the back.
Trivia: Igor Smolnikov is the first outfield player to be sent off for the host nation of a World Cup since Marcel Desailly for France in 1998 (v Brazil).
Minute 48: Cavani smashes a free-kick into the wall. Uruguay begin the second half with the same sort of dominance.
Minute 46: Russia start the second half by making another change, Kuzyaev comes in replacing Gazinskiy.
Half-time report: The first half of Uruguay vs Russia seems to be a reality check for the hosts as they are already two goals down in their last Group stage encouter against Suarez & Co.
The coach made three changes from the starting line-up, dropping Golovin as he is on a yellow card. Smolnikov, Kudryashov and Miranchuk were included in the starting line-up but Smolnikov's time on pitch was short-lived as thhe right-back was sent off in the 36th minute after being booked twice. Cheryshev, the star of the show for the hosts so far, also had a bad day at office after deflecting in Uruguay's second goal and being substituted at the 38th minute
Uruguay on the other hand, seem to enjoy their last group stage encouter after a shaky start to their World Cup campaign. The Latin-American sides star striker Suarez opened the scoresheet with a fantastic freekick from the edge of the box and the side seemed confident on the pitch through out the first half of game play.
Uruguay dominated much of the first half play and the midfielders helped create a number of dangerous chances for their attacking players. If the team can keep up the tempo against the host during the second half, Uruguay will go to the knockouts as table-toppers.Minute 45: Two minutes of extra-time added. THe second goal of Uruguay was credited to Laxault but has been changed to an own goal by Cheryshev because of the huge deflection. Not a good day at office for the star midfielder.
Minute 38: Russia make a substitution to cover the right-back position vacated by Smolnikov, introduces the regular starter Fernandes in place of Cheryshev.
Minute 36: Second yellow of the day for Russia. Smolnikov is booked for the second time thus receiving a red card. Russia are down to 10-man
Minute 33: Russia are getting a reality check against Uruguay. Uruguay are exposing Russia's defence with wave of attacks.
Minute 23: GOAL!!! Uruguay extends the leadto 2-0. A corner is headed away only as far as Laxalt, who strikes a shot towards Akinfeev's goal that takes a major deflection off Cheryshev - leaving the Russia goalkeeper with no chance.
TRIVIA: Suarez's goal was the 6th direct free-kick goal at Fifa World Cup 2018, surpassing the 2014 total of 5 free-kick goals.
Minute 18: Russia are certainly not taken back by the goal. They look confident and continue making attacking moves.
Minute 12: Russia gets a genuine chance. Dzyuba heads the ball towards Cheryshev who uinleashes a powerful side volley towards the goal. Muslera thwarts it and the Uruguay defence manages to clear it for a corner.
Minute 10: GOAL!!!! Uruguay gets a freekick just outside the penalty box. Suarez scores!!! A clever low kick into the corner of the net.
Russia: Akinfeev; Smolnikov, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Kurdjasov; Samedov, Gazinskiy, Miranchuk, Zobnin, Cheryshev; Dzyuba.
Uruguay: Muslera; Coates, Godin, Caceres; Laxalt, Nandez, Torreira, Bentancur, Vecino; Suarez, Cavani.Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal).
Match preview: Written off as no-hopers before the World Cup, Russia head to the Volga River city of Samara for a game which will see the winner secure top spot in Group A following the elimination of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
A draw would also be good enough to give Russia the top spot, as they have already pumped in eight goals from two matches. Russia's performance have ignited renewed hopes among the fans who were used to decades of World Cup futility.
Both teams then face the likely prospect of going up against either Spain or Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in the last 16 -- although underdogs Iran are still in the running to secure a Group-16 spot in a tight Group B.
Uruguay however are likely to provide the type of stern test Russia will need to overcome if they plan to have an extended run in the latter stages of the tournament.
The most high rated team of group B with several stars in their line-up, Uruguay have not been at their best during identical 1-0 wins over Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
However, the South Americans boast one of the strongest attacking line-ups in the tournament which includes the likes of star forwards Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Maxi Gómez.
Their defence, marshalled by skipper Diego Godín, are yet to concede a goal and the Uruguayans will definitely like to keep it that way. Godín is playing in his third World Cup and his experience should come in handy as the business end of the tournament approaches but defender Jose Maria Gimenez is out of his country's World Cup game against hosts Russia because of a thigh injury, officials said Saturday.
Uruguay and Russia have both won their first two matches, though the hosts have a far more impressive goal difference.
A stuttering Uruguay managed to win both their matches, against Egypt and Saudi Arabia. 1-0.
Russia had won just two of nine World Cup matches before kicking off the most watched event on the planet with a 5-0 rout of the Saudis.
"Our mission has still not been accomplished," Mutko said after watching a team training session on the outskirts of a muggy Moscow.
"We would like to get into the knockout stage as table-toppers."
Salah was contained by a Russian defence that had lost three starters before the tournament started and was forced to call back 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich from international retirement.
Ignashevich turns 39 on the eve of the final on July 15 that Russia retain improbable dreams of playing in. Few believe they will.Midfielder Denis Cheryshev has been one of the World Cup's biggest discoveries so far and is a natural leader of the team without big names.
A poll conducted in the wake of their win over Egypt showed just 14 percent think Russia can lift the trophy.
It was 11 percent when coach Stanislav Cherchesov's team were going through a seven-match winless streak that saw their ranking slip to a tournament-worst 70th.
But Cherchesov always thought Russia were underrated and a triumph over Uruguay's Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani would do more to prove the mustachioed manager right.
It would also see Russia looking more confidently at the permutations of whom they might encounter in the quarter-finals.