More people reside in Berlin, Rome and Detroit than Uruguay, yet the football-crazy country always seems to produce incredible talent and punch well above their weight, and they’re doing it again.
The nation that contains only 3.4 million people who pride themselves on grit, hard work and pride has got a national team that are unbeaten in 2018 and their performance resembled all of these qualities when they beat European Champions Portugal 2-1 on Saturday night to qualify for the Quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
Uruguay can’t be stopped in 2018 🔥 pic.twitter.com/oTaIf2U6DY
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 30, 2018
Óscar Tabárez’s men shot into lead on seven minutes with a quite spectacular goal involving the delicious strike-duo of Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani.
The latter hit a 60-yard cross field pass to Suarez who controlled beautifully before cutting inside to whip an inch perfect ball to the back-post where Cavani arrived to somehow get his head on the powerful cross. This goal was a showing of wavelengths being on point to absolute perfection, and a contender for goal of the tournament.
Suarez had Rui Patricio scrambling across goal to keep out a low-hit free-kick on 22 minutes and Cristiano Ronaldo hit his straight into the wall on the half-hour mark.
Pepe got his head on a Bernardo Silva cross just 10 minutes into the second half to level the scores and the European Champions looked like the only team that were going to go on the find a winner.
But the Uruguay backline stood strong; Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez threw themselves in front of everything that came their way and their bravery and heroism was rewarded.
With more than 25 minutes of normal time remaining, Portugal were throwing everything at La Celeste and got too carried away, leaving the back door open.
Juventus midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur found himself in a three-against-three breakaway with the ball at his feet. As Suarez peeled off to the right, the 21-year-old slid the ball to the left and into the path of Cavani.
Without thinking, the Salto-born striker turned his body to create an angle and curled the ball past the despairing dive of Patricio and into the far corner.
10 – 10 goals were scored at the #WorldCup today; the most goals on a day of knockout football at the tournament since the 17th June 1970, when two semi-finals produced a total of 11 goals. Party.#URUPOR #FRAARG #FRA #ARG #URU #POR pic.twitter.com/JTys9KWPcK
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 30, 2018
The PSG man then had to come off just eight minutes later after pulling up with a hamstring injury. His team had to dig in and fight without him, and they did just that.
The Uruguayans hung on and survived the Portuguese onslaught to qualify for a tasty quarter-final tie against France in Nizhny Novgorod on Friday. Didier Deschamps’ men will have to be on top form to get past these humble warriors and into the semi’s.