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Uruguay win to clinch top spot in Group A.

A Luis Suarez header late in the first half was enough to secure first place for Uruguay in Group A. Despite enjoying a lot of possession Mexico were largely disappointing and lacked the fluidity and cutting edge of their last game against France. There were fleeting movements of skill and good build up play from Giovani Dos Santos but an ageing strike force of Cuauhtémoc Blanco and Guillermo Franco failed grasp the opportunities presented.

Uruguay were impressive in spells, attacking through Suarez and Diego Forlan,but mainly played on the counter attack with Diego Perez impressing as a utility defender. In the end the Uruguayan’s deserved their victory over a nervous and hesitant Mexico.

Suarez celebrates his goal

Despite the 1-0 loss Mexico also qualified for the next round with 4 points, virtue of a greater goal difference than South Africa who beat a dreadful French team 2-1 in Group A’s other match. Mexico now face the daunting task of eliminating an impressive Argentinean team if they are to reach the last 16 of South Africa 2010. A feat they were unable to accomplish in Germany 2006 when they were beaten 2-1 by by the South Americans.

Javier Aguirre had to make two changes from his previous team. Efrain Juarez picked a second yellow against France and was suspended so Andres Guardado was employed on the left of midfield. Somewhat surprisingly Javier Hernandez was omitted from the starting lineup despite his impressive display against the French and an injured Carlos was replaced by veteran, talisman Cuauhtémoc Blanco in attack.

Uruguay made only one change from their previous victory against South Africa with Mauricio Victorino coming in for Diego Godlin in defence. Once again Edinson Cavani, Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez would form a dangerous, trio in attack.

The South American’s made a better start to the game and seemed intent on holding first position in Group A. Luis Suarez was gifted a chance in 6 minutes via a Hector Moreno mistake however with only the keeper to beat he shot wide past the far post. Oscar Perez was the far busier keeper early on nearly fluffing a clearance in 10 minutes but then making a good block from Suarez and then punching clear a Forlan curled free-kick from 20 yards out.

Cavani and Moreno compete for the ball

Mexico’s first chance fell to Guillermo Franco who created a fine shooting opportunity in 15 minutes only to swipe at fresh air at the crucial moment. The resultant by-kick was greeted with the customary call of “Puto” by fans of Mexico, a funny but less than complimentary tag which is chorused in the goal keepers run up.

As the half progressed good opportunities were at a premium and the game was beginning to settle down until Andres Guardado unleashed a thunderbolt from 35 yards out. The helpless Fernando Muslera could only watch on as the ball smashed off his crossbar and was cleared to safety. Guardado has been a peripheral figure in this World Cup so far and his strike maybe gave notice to the Mexican coaching staff on what a talent they have been missing.

Mexico continued to create in the lead up to half time mainly through a lively, Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Salcido crosses from the left but each time the chances were either spurned by Franco or passed far from a static Blanco who looked every minute of his 37 years.

Franco spurns another good chance

Then in 43 minutes Uruguay took the lead when a high cross from Edinson Cavani was met by an unmarked Suarez at the far post. Suarez has found the net 53 times in 60 matches for Ajax and Uruguay in the past 12 months and was not about to miss a free header from 6 yards. Mexico left the field for half time cursing their own paucity in attack.

Javier Aguirre opted to change Guardado for Pablo Barrera after thebreak and although Mexico started the 2nd half positively it was Uruguay who looked more menacing in the opening minutes. Mexico were pushing forward but in the process leaving large holes for Forlan and Suarez to fill and only a fine stop from Perez in 54 minutes denied Captain Diego Lugano from doubling Uruguay’s lead.

The Uruguayans continued to press a struggling Mexico for the next 10 minutes and only some desperate defending and Perez clearances ensured the game remained a contest. In this time Moreno was replaced by Israel Castro and Blanco was finally hauled off in favour of Javier Hernandez. One can only guess why Aguirre waited until 63 minutes to replace a clearly, struggling Blanco for his new superstar.

Aguirre directs his team

Then in 64 minutes Mexico missed a golden chance to equalize. Barrera floated an excellent, deep cross into the 6 yard box but with acres of time and space somehow Rodriguez managed to screw his header past the post when even the simplest contact would have sufficed. Rodriguez held his head in shame as he knew it was a chance that Mexico may not enjoy again.

The remainder of the game was dominated by a Mexico side desperately trying to find a goal and chances were being created by the lively Barrera on the right hand side who was linking with Giovani and Hernandez. However, the Uruguayan defence was resolute and Perez dominant in snuffing out any Mexican chances. Tempers began to get frayed near the end as the Mexican’s realized their fate and when the final whistle ended the match Mexico trounced off the field in disappointment despite their success.

The Uruguayan’s celebrated qualification knowing that there is a realistic ambition of a ¼ final berth for them while Mexico were face with the prospect of facing Argentina and a performance of which maybe they have never matched in order to progress.

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