Oscar Tabarez demands more from Uruguay despite 100 per cent group record
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 25/06/18 7:11pm
Oscar Tabarez warned his Uruguay side they need to improve despite securing top spot in Group A with a thumping 3-0 win over Russia.
Luis Suarez led the way as the South Americans ended 10-man Russia's perfect start to their own World Cup. Suarez fired them in front with a sweetly-struck free-kick just 10 minutes in at the Samara Arena, before Denis Cheryshev deflected Diego Laxalt's effort past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev 13 minutes later to double the advantage.
Russia's hopes of launching a fightback were effectively over before half-time when full-back Igor Smolnikov was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Although the hosts were much improved after the restart, Edinson Cavani struck again at the death as Uruguay coasted to a 3-0 win to complete a maximum haul of nine points without conceding a single goal.
"Russia did not push us around, they tried to put us into a corner," Uruguay coach Tabarez said at his post-match press conference. "Not only did we prevent them from doing that, but we put them in their half of the pitch in the first half.
"We could have won by even more goals. We did not manage to score on certain counter-attacks that we should have. Sometimes the timing wasn't perfect. We need to improve very quickly, because any match in the round of 16 will be extremely difficult.
"The result and to be top of our group pleased me most. We won by a wide margin but I like the fact that we didn't concede. We need to work towards that end. And I liked the dedication and concentration that my team had. They were focused from end to end, the entire squad. They executed the plan that we worked towards and which we all agreed.
"For me the holy grail of football is the word 'balance'," he added. "When we attack we need to be able to attack, but it doesn't come from an abstract suggestion. Whenever there is an attack it is because ball possession has been recovered or we have defended well on an opponent's attack. We work on balance all of the time."
It was a chastening afternoon for Russia, but they lost safe in the knowledge that they too have qualified for the last 16.
Coach Stanislav Cherchesov said: "Even when we had 10 people on the pitch, they were running hard and they wanted to attack more.
"Psychologically we are well prepared for the next games. I believe that we should come to some conclusions during the training sessions.
"That is one thing and when you come to the pitch to play the game it's another. This is an art to be prepared at any second."