The Uruguay men’s national football team, nicknamed La Celeste (The Sky Blue), has brushed aside Russia to seal top spot in Group A of the 2018 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup.
On Saturday, the Uruguay side, which had already got a berth in the knockout stage of the tournament fowwing a narrow 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia five days earlier, comfortably beat the ten-man hosts 3-0 at the Cosmos Arena in Samara.
Striker Luis Suarez opened the scoring for La Celeste with a free kick in the 10th minute.
The South Americans doubled the lead in the 23rd minute when Diego Laxalt's shot took a wicked deflection off Russia’s 27-year-old midfielder Denis Cheryshev, and the latter scored an own goal.
Russia's job got all the harder when Igor Smolnikov was sent off for two yellow cards after 36 minutes. That silenced a vociferous home crowd, who had been celebrating in the aftermath of Russia's opening two victories.
Edinson Cavani bundled home a third goal for Uruguay in the dramatic final minute of regulation, ensuring La Celeste finished above Russia’s Sbornaya in the group.
Later in the day, the Iran men’s national football team, better known as Team Melli, will face Portugal in a Group B match at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk.
During the official 2018 FIFA World Cup draw ceremony at Kremlin State Palace in the Russian capital city of Moscow on December 1 last year, the host nation, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay were put in Group A in the preliminary round of the tournament.
The Iran men's national football team, nicknamed Team Melli, has joined Portugal’s A Selecção, Spain’s La Furia Roja and Atlas Lions of Morocco.
France is drawn in Group C, and is pitted against Australia, Peru and Denmark.
Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria are drawn in Group D.
Group E consists of Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
While the 2014 FIFA World Cup champion Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea shape Group F, Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England are in Group G.
Group H has Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place from June 14 to July 15. Russia opened the event against Saudi Arabia in a Group A fixture at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. The hosts won the match 5-0.
A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities.