SAMARA, RUSSIA – 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.
In other Group A action in Volgograd, the oldest person to play in a World Cup match gave up a pair of goals Monday, allowing Saudi Arabia to beat Egypt 2-1 in a game between two teams that had already been eliminated.
Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, who is 45, took the field for his team’s final group match to set the record.
Although he gave up the two goals, he also saved a penalty in the first half.
Salem Aldawsari scored with almost the last kick of the match for the Saudis, shooting from a tight angle inside the Egypt penalty area and poking the ball past El Hadary.
Mohamed Salah had put Egypt ahead in the 22nd minute when he deftly controlled a long ball from Abdalla Said that split the Saudi defense and then lobbed goalkeeper Yasser Almosailem.
It was Egypt’s first goal in open play at the World Cup since 1934.
Salman Alfaraj got the Saudis level with a penalty kick in first-half stoppage time after Ali Gabr brought down Fahad Almuwallad in the area. The decision was confirmed after a video review and the penalty was taken in the sixth minute of injury time.
Saudi Arabia finished Group A in third place with three points, while Egypt was last after losing all three of its games.
Almuwallad had earlier missed a chance to equalize when El Hadary saved his penalty. The veteran goalkeeper dived to his right and flicked his left hand up to push the shot onto the bar before it was cleared.
El Hadary was unable to repeat the feat when Alfaraj lined up against him at the end of the half, going the wrong way and having no chance.
El Hadary overtook Faryd Mondragon as the oldest person to play at the World Cup. The Colombia goalkeeper was 43 when he came on as a late substitute in his team’s 4-1 victory over Japan four years ago in Brazil.