FIFA World Cup 2018: 3 Reasons why Russia lost 3-0 to Uruguay
Uruguay secured top spot in Group A with a comfortable 3-0 win over hosts Russia, who were reduced to ten men, midway through the first half as Igor Smolnikov was given his marching orders for a second bookable offense.
Luis Suarez got Uruguay off to the perfect start, with a clever free-kick that wrong-footed Igor Akinfeev in the Russian goal. Uruguay's lead was doubled in the first half, with Diego Laxalt's left-footed drive deflecting off the unfortunate Denis Cheryshev to give Akinfeev no chance again. Edinson Cavani scored his first ever World Cup goal in a winning cause to round off the win late in the second half.
For Stanislav Cherchesov and Russia, it is back to the drawing board, but they will not be too concerned by this loss, having rested their midfield lynchpin Aleksandr Golovin and the veteran Yuri Zhirkov, having already secured qualification with two wins in their first two games.
We take a look at the three key factors that led to the Russians going down on a hot afternoon in Samara.
#3 Igor Smolnikov's daft challenge to get sent off
Smolnikov had already been booked early in the first half on his World Cup debut, having come into the side to replace the rested Mario Fernandes at right-back.
At that stage, it was important for Smolnikov to keep his head and not rush into challenges against the talented Uruguayan attack.
But lose his head, is exactly what he did. Diego Laxalt picked up the ball and used his pace to bomb past the Russian, and he was silly to hit the floor and look to slide in to win the ball back. He only managed to catch Laxalt, and the referee had no hesitation but to send him off for a second bookable offence.
Against ten men, against the strength of Uruguay, it was always going to be an uphill task for Russia, and they could not break Uruguay down.
Rodrigo Bentancur led a confident Uruguayan midfield, that sprayed the ball around with ease, and didn't allow the Russians any time on the ball.
Smolnikov's sending off also meant that Russia had to sacrifice Cheryshev to shore up the defence, and that led to a further weakened midfield.
By the end, the Russians were exhausted having to run around with a man less, for more than an hour, in stifling conditions.
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