ROSTOV-ON-DON (Reuters) - Uruguay have still not delivered a top performance at the World Cup despite winning both of their games but their players were in no mood for apologies about their soporific 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia in Group A which saw them into the last 16.
Saudi Arabia’s dismal 5-0 defeat to Russia had Uruguay fans expecting a feast of goals in Rostov after their late, narrow 1-0 victory over Egypt but they only managed a scrappy strike from Luis Suarez after indecision from the opposing goalkeeper.
“When you win it’s always positive. We also kept a clean sheet which is something which is really important. We have to keep on improving collectively, but when you win it’s always better,” said captain Diego Godin.
“Uruguay are a very aggressive team, we’re battle hardened. We know who we are and what we can do in every game,” added midfielder Lucas Torreira.
Match winner Suarez said the team’s limited performances had done nothing to dampen the mood in the camp and he underlined the significance of the tiny South American nation qualifying from their group yet again.
“I have always said that Uruguay are feeling very confident, we’re really up for it, but sometimes how you play depends on the day you have,” he said.
“We are very happy because it’s the first time Uruguay has qualified for the last 16 for three World Cups in a row. We can all be proud of the great progress Uruguayan football has made in these last few years.”
Uruguay play free-scoring hosts Russia in their final game on Monday to determine who finishes top of Group A, but the South Americans are destined for a gruelling second round game regardless of where they finish.
Either 2010 winners Spain or European champions Portugal are likely to be their opponents, with both sides locked on four points and with the same goal difference at the top of Group B.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, if we want to go as far as possible we have to beat everyone,” added Suarez, who would come up against Barcelona team mates Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets if Uruguay get paired with Spain.
“If we are to dream of being world champions we have to beat the best in the world, and Spain are one of the best.”
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge