Uruguay fan, photo by Jimmy Baikovicius / Flickr
Uruguay 3-2 Argentina
15 October 2013
World Cup Qualifier
Estadio Centenario, Montevideo
Scorers: Cristian Rodriguez, Suarez, Cavani (Uru); Maxi Rodríguez (2) (Arg)
Uruguay are the new Unofficial Football World Champions after beating Argentina 3-2 in this exciting World Cup qualifier. It was a 17th UFWC title match win for the new champions, and their first since 2006. The margin of victory wasn’t enough to secure an automatic WC qualification place for Uruguay, and they will now need to win a two-legged play-off in order to join Argentina in Brazil next summer.
Uruguay lined up with Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani up front. Argentina, without the injured Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain (plus Javier Mascherano and Fabricio Coloccini), went with Rodrigo Palacio and Erik Lamela.
Uruguay took an early lead in the 6th minute, when a Luis Suarez free kick ricocheted through several legs before arriving at the feet of Cristian Rodriguez, who fired a shot across Argentina keeper Sergio Romero and into the net.
Argentina were never going to roll over, and 12 minutes later they were level. Rodrigo Palacio’s cross was chested down by Augusto Fernandez, allowing Maxi Rodriguez to sweep the ball home.
On 34 minutes, though, Uruguay were back in front. Suarez tumbled in the penalty area under what looked like very minimal contact, and Brazilian referee Marcelo Henrique awarded a penalty. Suarez recovered sufficiently to take the kick himself, firing it under the diving Romero.
Ten minutes later, though, Argentina drew level again. Maxi Rodriguez found space in the Uruguay penalty area, cut inside, and struck a left-foot shot past keeper Fernando Muslera to claim his second goal of the night. The half-time score was 2-2.
Uruguay started the second half very strongly, and Edinson Cavani, who had already missed two good chances, gave his side a 3-2 lead on 49 minutes, combining with Suarez before emphatically smashing the ball into the Argentine net.
Despite Ecuador losing 2-1 in Chile, Uruguay needed a further four-goal swing to finish above Ecuador on goal difference and claim an automatic World Cup qualifying place. But there were no further goals in Montevideo, and Uruguay had to settle for a 3-2 win and play-off place – plus the consolation of the UFWC title.
Uruguay’s previous reign as unofficial champions occurred in 2006. Today’s victory over Argentina was their 17th title match win, and moves them into 11th place in the all-time UFWC rankings.
Next up for the new champions is a two-legged inter-confederation World Cup play-off against Jordan. The two legs will be played on 13 and 20 November in Amman and Montevideo respectively. A reminder that, under UFWC rules, the two legs will count as two separate UFWC title matches. So there’s no guarantee that either Uruguay or Jordan will take the UFWC title into the World Cup Finals. But we certainly have some very exciting UFWC title matches coming up between now and summer 2014.