Great Britain beat Uruguay 1-0 in Cardiff to reach the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament quarter-finals as Group A winners and eliminate their opponents. Daniel Sturridge scored the only goal on the stroke of half-time to set up a clash with Korea Republic, with the result also helping Senegal finish as the section’s runners-up.
Pearce and his Uruguay counterpart Oscar Tabarez both made significant changes to their starting XIs, with the former including Scott Sinclair and Sturridge – both of whom had rose from the bench to score against United Arab Emirates last time out.Uruguay needed victory to advance, while a draw would have been good enough for Great Britain.
The atmosphere may have been electric as the game kicked off at the Millennium Stadium, but the action certainly wasn’t in the first 25 minutes, with both sides looking cautious.
It swiftly sprung into life thereafter, though. First, Gaston Ramirez robbed possession in the midfield, sprinted forward and unleashed a powerful strike, which went just over the bar. Then, almost immediately, Aaron Ramsey’s cross-shot whizzed just past the post to gasps from the British crowd.
Those gasps turned into roars of delight on the stroke of half-time. Swansea City team-mates Scott Sinclair and Joe Allen combined neatly down the left, and after the latter had beaten his man and crossed low into the area, Sturridge chipped the ball home to give Great Britain the lead.
If the first half had been relatively chance-shy, the second was the complete opposite. Nine minutes into it, Suarez did superbly to drag the ball back from the byline, but his close-range effort was brilliantly blocked by Jack Butland.
Uruguay goalkeeper Martin Campana then pulled off a fine stop from Sturridge in a one-on-one situation, before Suarez forced Butler into a fine diving save, with Cavani unable to turn in the rebound from a very tight angle.
With five minutes remaining, Sturridge cut in from the right, turned Matias Aguirregaray inside out and, from the edge of the box, unleashed a shot which was destined for the bottom corner until Campana’s fingertips saved the day.
With 92 minutes on the clock, Ramirez came agonisingly close to an equaliser only to see his powerful drive smash the crossbar. The seconds were almost up, but Uruguay earned themselves one final chance by winning a free-kick in a dangerous position just outside the box. Suarez stepped up and his curler was goalbound until Butland dove to his right to make an impressive catch.
The final whistle immediately sounded. An immense roar went up inside the Millennium Stadium. Great Britain will be hoping an identical one greets the final whistle of their quarter-finals against the South Koreans at the same venue.