Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Suarez sends Uruguay, and Russia, to last 16 at World Cup

Published:Thursday | June 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Uruguay's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the Group A match against Saudi Arabia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on Wednesday.

ROSTOV-ON-DON (AP):

With a single goal, Luis Suarez settled the fate of four teams in the group stage of the World Cup.

The controversial striker, who was making his 100th appearance in his national team's light blue, scored Wednesday to give Uruguay a 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia and a spot in the round of 16.

The result, though, had a domino effect in Group A. It also put host Russia into the next round while eliminating both Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the same time.

Suarez, who was kicked out of the last World Cup for biting an opponent during a match, knocked in a corner kick from Carlos Sanchez in the 23rd minute for his 52nd goal for his country in that century of matches.

"We are more than proud because we've reached the knockout stage at three successive World Cups. It's a beautiful moment and we want to enjoy it," Suarez said. "We still haven't hit our stride, so we need to tweak some things."

Uruguay and Russia both have six points from their opening two matches, putting them into the round of 16 with a match to go. They will face each other on Monday in Samara with first place in Group A on the line.

Besides scoring, Suarez led his team with a hard-working performance. He fell back to defend and raced forward alongside Edinson Cavani on the counterattack.

"I don't want to hand out empty praise, but Suarez is a crucial player for us. And he has that enormous capacity to score goals," Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. "He lives under enormous pressure, but he lives with it. He takes that pressure on."

The 71-year-old Tabarez is the oldest coach at the tournament and also led Uruguay to the World Cup semifinals in 2010.