Uruguay end Uzbek fairytale
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Uruguay beat out Asian upstarts and FIFA U-17 World Cup debutants Uzbekistan 2-0 in Monterrey on Sunday, thanks to a goal in each half from Santiago Charamoni and Rodrigo Aguirre. The South Americans now match the mark reached by their senior side at last year’s FIFA World Cup™ finals in South Africa and will aim to go one step better with a place in the final when they meet Brazil in the last-four here in Mexico.

Both Uzbekistan and Uruguay had chances to score in an open first ten minutes at the Estadio Universitario, but the game quickly settled into a calmer rhythm. The South Americans sat back, predictably happy enough to soak up pressure and try to hit their Asian opponents on the break. But coach Fabian Coito’s plans took a hit after 20 minutes when he lost captain Emiliano Velazquez to an injury.

It didn’t slow them down, however, and after 27 minutes Elbio Alvarez broke into Uzbekistan’s penalty area and fired in a shot with his left foot after cutting the ball back expertly from his right. Goalkeeper Ganisher Kholmurodov was hardly troubled by the effort. The Celeste had only to wait two minutes before they got their next chance in front of goal, and this one they put away. Charamoni, on for the injured Juan Cruz Mascia, brought the ball down well on his chest from a long pass through midfield and tapped coolly into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.

Uzbekistan did their all to haul themselves back into the contest before the interval, but neither of outstanding captain Abbosbek Makhstaliev’s efforts on goal did much to trouble Jonathan Cubero in the Uruguayan net.

The Asians came out from the locker-room chasing the game, but Maximiliano Moreira had the first opportunity to score up the other end. He raced through into the area and his chipped effort was only just snuffed out by Kholmurodov. Seconds later, though, it was 2-0. Rodrigo Aguirre made a similar run into the box and hit the top corner with his sizzling shot.

Things almost got worse for the Uzbeks in the 76th minute. Muhsinjon Ubaydullaev took down Guillermo Mendez in the box and the Cameroonian referee did not hesitate in pointing to the spot. Substitute Mendez dusted himself down to the take the kick, but his tame effort was denied by Kholmurodov. In the end it didn’t matter as Uruguay now march on to the semi-finals, where they will meet Brazil in Guadalajara on 7 July.