Uruguay are almost assured of their place in next year's FIFA World Cup™ finals in Brazil after beating Jordan 5-0 in their intercontinental playoff first leg on Wednesday. The South American giants, sixth in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, overcame a few tense minutes at the start of the game at the packed Amman International Stadium to seal an emphatic victory against the Jordanians, ranked 70th, who failed to live up to the hype and expectation generated in their own country.
Benfica defender Maxi Pereira put the South Americans ahead in the 22nd minute with a simple tap-in after an Edinson Cavani header was parried by Jordanian goalkeeper Mohamad Shatnawi. The two-time World Cup winners doubled their lead through Espanyol striker Christian Stuani who snuck the ball under Shatnawi after good build-up play by Edinson Cavani.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward ducked under a throw-in to allow the ball to reach Nicolas Lodiero and the Botafogo midfielder clipped the ball to Stuani who beat Shatnawi with an easy shot from close range. Jordan's Egyptian coach Hossam Hassan had invoked pride in his rallying cry before the match, saying his team carried the hopes of the entire Arab world, but the Uruguayans, with several of their stars playing in the European leagues, simply proved too good on the day.
La Celeste stretch their advantage
The Jordanians, however, had one clear chance but Ibrahim al-Zawareh inexplicably fired wide from close range after Shareef Adnan had done all the hard work on the right early in the second half. Thereafter it was Uruguay all the way, Lodiero scoring the third goal after poor defending by the Jordanians allowed Cavani to get behind the back four.
Cristian Rodriguez then got on the scoresheet with a half-volley from close range and Cavani, easily the star of the match, finished off the game with a brilliant free-kick from outside the penalty area in added time. The return leg in Montevideo next week is now seems a formality as Uruguay look set to return to Brazil, the scene of their most recent World Cup win in 1950.