Lopez stars as Celeste secure second
© AFP

Uruguay have leapfrogged Uzbekistan to finish second in Group F and set up a last-16 meeting with Nigeria after a thoroughly deserved 4-0 win at Antalya’s Akdeniz University Stadium. The Uzbeks will themselves go through to face an as yet undecided opponent as one of the best third-placed teams, but they were comfortably outclassed by a Celeste side superior in all departments.

Nicolas Lopez emerged as the star of the show, scoring one and creating another, and he was a danger to the Asians’ defence from the very start. Twice his pace took him through at the angle of the box but on both occasions his finishing let him down, with his left-foot efforts drifting wide of the far post. Uzbekistan had a chance of their own when Abdul Aziz Yusupov nearly stole in on a short back-pass by Gaston Silva, but Uruguay remained firmly in command and took a well-earned lead with seven minutes of the first half remaining.

A fine goal it was too, with Gino Acevedo finding a pocket of space in midfield before striding forward unchallenged from and rifling right-footed into the bottom-right corner from 25 yards. It rounded off a bad first half for Uzbekistan but things were to become a great deal worse after the break, as Uruguay ran riot.

Lopez was at the heart of everything, doubling his side’s advantage two minutes after the restart with a precise shot high into the net after racing through and coolly rounding goalkeeper Asilbek Amanov. The Celeste No11 then turned creator for his team’s next two goals, squaring unselfishly for Giorgian De Arrascaeta to pick his spot from ten yards and then crossing for substitute Ruben Bentancourt to complete the rout with a volley beyond Amanov at his near post.

Uruguay will now march on to an Istanbul duel with Nigeria on Tuesday, while Uzbekistan will need to wait before discovering their last-16 opponents.