Uruguay grind down clever Canucks
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Uruguay edged an impressive Canadian outfit 3-0 in the late game from Pachuca’s Estadio Hidalgo, qualifying top scorer Juan Cruz Mascia proving the major difference between the two sides in the Group C contest. Despite playing some impressive passing football, the Canucks failed to find their way to a goal and were made to pay.

The Uruguayans came out flying and very nearly took the lead after only six minutes. Juan San Martin collected a return pass from striker Juan Cruz Mascia, top scorer in South American qualifying, and forced Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeu into a fine save with a powerful snapshot from a tight angle.

The Canadians, however, were not overawed and after 13 minutes they began a lovely, flowing move out of the back that started with the goalkeeper and ended up with winger Michael Petrasso having his close-range shot blocked wide. The build-up consisted of no fewer than seven passes and was met with delight from the crowd. Suddenly the North Americans, who conceded only three goals in qualifying, were keeping hold of the ball and showing no small amount of style.

Yassin Essa created a neat chance for the lively Canadians in the 32nd minute, but after he spun well in the box, Uruguayan keeper Jonathan Cubero denied his effort. Up the other end, the South Americans had one last chance in the half, but outstanding Canuck keeper Crepeau dove well to deny a sizzling free-kick from Elbio Alvarez.

The Canadian shot-stopper kept up the form early in the second half, acrobatically diving to his left to keep out a 25-yard strike from Leonardo Pais. Seconds later, in the 51st minute, he could do nothing to keep Cruz Mascia’s try from flying into the roof of the net from close-range after a defensive mix-up. The defiant Canadians tried to hit back straight-away, but Luca Gasparotto’s header from a long free-kick was well saved by Cubero.

The North Americans did their all to drag themselves back into the game, but in the end they just couldn’t find their way through to goal. Uruguay rubbed salt in their wounds too, converting a penalty kick in the 86th minute through substitute Guillermo Mendez.

Things went from bad to worse after that. Canada lost their goalkeeper, Crepeau, after a knee-to-knee collision and Alvarez ruthlessly poked home a third for the Uruguayans. The Canadians will look to rebound against England, who won their opener against Rwanda, on 22 June, the same day that Uruguay meet the debutant Africans, who are still looking for their first goal at a FIFA finals.