Uruguay edge Congo to stamp ticket
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The Uruguayans came back from a goal down to beat African outfit Congo 2-1 in the round of 16 at the Estadio Morelos in Morelia on Wednesday. The South American side will now move on to the quarter-final stages of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011, where they will take on Asian first-timers Uzbekistan, who routed Australia earlier in the day.

Uruguay began the game pushing four players up into the Congo half in the hopes of keeping the Africans from creating and building chances with the ball. The plan worked for a time, and the Congolese patiently waited in hopes of hitting out on the counter-attack. They managed the first chance of any note after five minutes, when Bel Epako fired in a shot from distance that was well handled by Jonathan Cubero.

Just four minutes later, Congo had a let-off as Cisse Bassoumba’s defensive header very nearly went into his own goal. Shortly after, Uruguay almost got a goal of their own creating, but Rodrigo Aguirre’s wicked shot in from the left side was saved by Chill Ngakosso.

As the half wore on, Uruguay began to resort to hitting long balls out of the back. The new tactic gave an advantage to Congo, who began to take the initiative through Hardy Binguila and Justalain Kounkou. However, it was the Celeste who finished the period with the two best chances. Maximiliano Moreira and Aguirre both rattled the crossbar with excellent opportunities to open the scoring.

Congo came out like a house on fire early in the second half, and they took the lead in the 53rd minute. Epako raced down the left and crossed dangerously into the area. Gianni Rodriguez side-footed the ball out of the danger zone, or so he thought. Binguila came racing up through midfield and pounded the ball on the volley past Cubero, who had no chance.  

Uruguay, though, were not to be outfoxed so easily and they drew level just 12 minutes later when Aguirre crossed into the penalty area. Moreira made no mistake with his finish and Uruguay nearly took the lead a minute later only for Elbio Anvarez’s shot to rebound off the post. The South Americans persevered and eventually got their winner four minutes from time. Gaston Silva’s free-kick took a wicked deflection and left the despairing Ngakosso with no hope.

Congo walked off to a standing ovation from the fans, but it is Uruguay who move on to the quarter-finals, where they will meet Uzbekistan in Torreon on 3 July.