Luis Suárez marked his 100th international cap by sending Uruguay into the last 16 of the World Cup after benefiting from some poor goalkeeping to eliminate Saudi Arabiawith a 1-0 win .
The Barcelona forward tapped in the only goal of the game midway through the first half after the Saudi keeper, Mohammed al-Owais, failed to get a fist to the ball from a corner. The goal put Uruguay second in Group A with a maximum six points and ensured qualification for the knockout phase as Saudi Arabia, who have not won a World Cup game since their debut in 1994, have yet to pick up a point.
Suárez’s goal was by no means the prettiest of his career but it was enough to secure the three points. “All we wanted to do was to win and qualify for the next round,” he said. “Today was another demonstration that it is so difficult to win a game in a World Cup. This World Cup is proving that what matters most is the result and we’re very proud to have reached the last 16 for the third time in a row.”
At least Suárez, who missed three good opportunities in Uruguay’s opening win against Egypt, was at his efficient best with his 52nd international goal. And this tournament has already proved a lot better than four years ago when he bit Giorgio Chiellini and was sent home and banned for four months from all football-related activity.
Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani wasted numerous chances, including one in the 14th minute when he skied a half-volley over the bar. The stadium burst into life in the 23rd minute, however, when an unmarked Suárez coolly tapped into an unguarded net from a corner kick after Owais came out but misjudged his jump and could not reach the ball. Suárez has now scored in three consecutive World Cups.
The Saudis continued to move the ball around but barely threatened a typically gritty Uruguay defence. The second half was even scrappier, with Saudi Arabia too limited going forward to trouble their opponents, who were happy to hold on to their narrow advantage.