José Giménez was the man of the match in Uruguay’s World Cup opener, scoring in the final minutes to give his team a narrow 1-0 win over Uruguay.
In a match featuring some of the world’s biggest striker, the name on everyone’s lips spent his day on the bench. Mohamed Salah, recovering from a shoulder injury, did not play in his team’s opening match.
With no Salah, Uruguay dominated the action. They were unable to score in the first half, and also seemed to struggle cracking the Egyptian defense in the later stages. Egypt were well-organized at the back, but too many fouls in the late minutes gave too many set pieces to the larger Uruguay.
Up until that point, there was serious doubts about Uruguay’s ability in opening games. This is Uruguay’s first World Cup opener win in 48 years, setting themselves up nicely for winning Group A.
Gimenez is a veteran of Atletico Madrid who just signed a new deal with the club. The 23-year old defender wasn’t the one expected to score, but what a massive boost for Uruguay moving through this stage.
In a group marked by lesser teams, Uruguay did well to snag three points. The one point would have been a huge steal for Egypt, who know that Uruguay is easily the top team in the group.
For Mohamed Salah, it was a tactical decision to keep the superstar striker on the sideline. Because Egypt’s next two matches are far more winnable, the squad is saving, or rather preserving, Salah for teams against whom he will be the most effective. It was unknown if Salah could defeat Godin and the Uruguyan defense, but he should be able to inflict real damage against the shaky defenses of Russia and Saudi Arabia.