Uruguay claimed the 32nd and final spot in next month’s World Cup group stage draw after beating Jordan 5-0 on aggregate in their intercontinental playoff, although the guests walked off the Centenario pitch with their heads held high after holding the South American champions to a scoreless decision in Wednesday’s second leg.
With the tie all but settled after last week’s encounter in Amman, the historic ground in Montevideo took on a carnival atmosphere as the more than 66,000 fans took to their places a few minutes early to watch a ceremony honouring Alcides Ghiggia—the only remaining member of Uruguay’s 1950 World Cup-winning team.
As it turned out, that was about as much excitement as they’d be treated to on this night. From the outset it was clear their side had no intention to play harder than was absolutely necessary. And Jordan, to their credit, gave as good as they got in a match they might well have won.
Cristian Rodriguez, who was one of Uruguay’s better attackers throughout the 90 minutes, came close to opening the scoring in the 13th minute when he weaved his way into a good position, only to be halted by a wall of red shirts that proved surprisingly sturdy against such high-profile opposition.
Rodriguez then played a nice one-two with Edinson Cavani on the stroke of the half-hour mark but couldn’t quite get himself in the position for the final ball.
The first half ended with Diego Godin hitting the crossbar from a Luis Suarez corner, and at the interval, the hosts might have thought they deserved to be at least a goal to the good.
But that thought will have dissipated throughout the second frame as Uruguay seemed to lose all interest in the match while Jordan, marshalled by the superb Shareef Adnan, not only kept La Celeste at bay but also came close to opening their own account.
Cavani and Suarez once again had half-chances to score in the early going, but in the 63rd minute, Uruguay captain Diego Lugano had to be sharp to deny Abdallah Deeb’s header after he had been sprung into space by an accurate, arching pass.
Cavani would have at least two more chances to tally the winner, but shortly after forcing goalkeeper Mohammad Shatnawi into making one of his best saves of the night with just eight minutes remaining, he was substituted for Abel Hernandez, and from there the chances seemed to evaporate for either side.
Key Player Grades
Luis Suarez: C+
He played the full 90 minutes but managed to do very little. In fact, he might have considered himself lucky to have not been sent off in the first half for a late, studs-up challenge on a Jordan defender as the ball went out for a goal kick. The Liverpool forward grew more and more frustrated as the match wore on, and his game deteriorated as a result.
Shareef Adnan: A
The Al-Faisaly defender was nothing short of heroic in Montevideo. Whether in making a nuisance of himself on every Uruguay set piece or draping his body over the likes of Suarez and Cavani inside his own 18-yard box, his was the primary influence in a memorable result for Jordan.
|Uruguay Player Grades|
|Jordan Player Grades|
Uruguay—two-time World Cup winners—are through to the 2014 finals and will be seeded in Pot 1 for next month’s draw. Jordan, meanwhile, will turn their attention to AFC Asian Cup qualification.
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