Scoring opportunities were at a premium as Uruguay squeezed past neighbours Argentina by the odd goal (2-1) in one of the tightest games of the tournament. For the Uruguayans, who also beat the Albiceleste in the South American qualifiers in Macae, an intriguing semi-final against France now awaits.
In a highly dramatic denouement, Miguel grabbed the winner for the Charruas with a last-second free kick that bounced awkwardly to wrong-foot Marcelo Salgueiro in the Argentine goal. All this after Santiago Lopez Hilaire continued his fine tournament by grabbing the opener for the Albiceleste, only for Ricar to level things up for Venancio Ramos' outfit with another free kick.
As expected, the first two periods saw the River Plate rivals cancel each other out in a cautious tactical battle. With chances predictably few and far between, Pampero came closest to breaking the deadlock for the Uruguayans with some fine long-range strikes. Francisco Petrasso's side responded with some long-distance shooting of their own, and the ever-lively Federico Lopez Hilaire kept his markers on their toes throughout. Keepers Salgueiro and Leandro coped admirably with everything that was thrown at them, though, and the game remained goalless going into the final period.
In what proved to be a tense finale, the men in blue and white drew first blood when the younger of the two Lopez Hilaires latched onto a loose ball before finishing with great aplomb. Ricar soon wiped the smile off Argentine faces with a close-range free-kick, and just when extra-time looked a certainty, up stepped Miguel with his venomous drive to settle the issue in the Celestes' favour. With tensions riding high following an emotionally charged afternoon, it was unfortunate to see the game end with a series of regrettable incidents involving both sides.
The Uruguayans now face a semi-final showdown with reigning champions France, who earlier ended the challenge of Japan without too much difficulty.
Referees: Joao Duarte (BRA), Vincenzo Cascone (ITA), Fabio Polito (ITA)