- Like Messi, Ronaldo exits tournament unsung
Paris Saint Germain forward, Edinson Cavani, was worth all the hype Saturday night as his brace for Uruguay helped set up the first quarter final of the 2018 World Cup here in Russia against France at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.
Cavani’s superb two goals in the 2-1 victory ended Cristiano Ronaldo’s hopes of success in Russia just hours after Lionel Messi and Argentina were knocked out, beaten 4-3 by Les Bleus.
The PSG man who deservedly was voted the Man of the Match opened the scoring early on, playing a superb one-two with Luis Suarez before thumping home a header from his strike partner’s cross.
Cavani became the oldest Uruguayan to score a World Cup brace as the 31-year-old is 108 days older than Diego Forlan was when he did this against South Africa in 2010.
Uruguay had not conceded a goal at this World Cup before Pepe rose unmarked to nod in an equaliser from close range, prompting a brief spell of dominance for Portugal.
But Cavani secured Uruguay’s place in the last eight when he steered a brilliant shot beyond goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
The win may have come at a price, though, as a limping Cavani was helped out of the pitch by Ronaldo in a rare show of fair play.
Uruguay made a slow start to this World Cup by scraping past Egypt 1-0 but have got stronger with every game – and in Suarez and Cavani, they possess one of the most potent strike partnerships in Russia.
Exquisite technique, timing and teamwork were all present as the two combined to score a goal inside the first 10 minutes that few sides at the tournament would have been able to prevent.
Cavani – hugging the touchline on the right wing – hit a brilliant crossfield pass to Suarez wide left. The Barcelona forward held the ball for a moment as Cavani powered into the area before whipping in a cross for his strike partner to head home. Of Cavani’s 45 international goals, Suarez has now assisted 12 of them.
It is, however, a partnership that could be disrupted by Cavani’s hamstring injury that prevented him from concluding the match.
A serious injury for Cavani would undoubtedly be a blow but this Uruguay team is arguably greater than the sum of its parts. Against Portugal, they looked well balanced and while they did concede, it was the first goal against them in 597 minutes of football, a run stretching back to August last year.