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Liverpool's Internationals Recap: Uruguay Furiously Tread Water

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Despite an energetic and entertaining performance against Argentina, in the end it wasn't enough to improve their standing, leaving Taberez' men to have worked awfully hard going nowhere.

Laurence Griffiths

Uruguay 3, Argentina 2

Uruguay C. Rodriguez 6', Suarez 34' (pen), Cavani 49'
Argentina M. Rodriguez 15', 41'


Argentina started the night having locked down first in CONMEBOL's qualification tournament while Uruguay knew they needed a good result along with a little bit of help elsewhere to move up to fourth and gain automatic qualification, avoiding the intercontinental playoff against Jordan. Especially at home, then, it was perhaps no surprise Uruguay came out of the gates firing, looking to pin back a side already comfortably through and without Lionel Messi, with Argentina's star attacker still missing though a thigh injury.

It only took four minutes for the pressure to tell, as a sloppy foul on Luis Suarez gave the Liverpool striker the chance to curl in a free kick. Argentina looked laughably lost defending it, and when the ball bounced past three defenders and to the feet of Christian Rodriguez at the back post following a nifty flick by Maxi Pereira, Uruguay were up and seemingly in full control. Suarez wasn't done influencing the match, either, showing some of his best form as he constantly troubled the Argentinian defence.

The lead, though, didn't last long, as Liverpool old boy Maxi Rodriguez did the thing he always did best at Anfield, putting himself in the exact right place to capitalise on a knocked down cross that he calmly slotted past Fernando Muslera. The goal—which Uruguay should have defended better—knocked the hosts back and they quickly lost the edge that had given them their initial lead, but a highly dubious penalty when Suarez tumbled in the box following minimal contact soon put them right back in control.

With Chile beating Ecuador in the match between the two sides Uruguay still had a chance of catching, the hosts seemed primed for a perfect final day of South American qualifying only for another moment of poor defending to undo them and hand Maxi his second of the night just before the break. The excitement didn't end there, though, as a Uruguayan side that knew they might just have a shot at automatic qualification started the second half as they had the first—all out attack.

Cavani put them back in the lead, and Uruguay had chance after chance—including a furious spell just past 65 minutes that saw the hosts hit the crossbar and post in quick succession—but in the end they didn't quite have enough to make up their goal differential deficit and will have to play Jordan in the intercontinental playoff if they're to make it to Brazil. It's not the result Uruguay would have hoped for, but for the neutral it ended up being one of the most purely entertaining matches of World Cup qualifying.