The Liverpool man scored shortly after arriving as a substitute to perfectly set the hosts up for a vital World Cup qualifierUruguay picked up a confidence-boosting 1-0 friendly win against France in Montevideo on Wednesday evening.
All of the four previous encounters between the sides had ended scoreless but this fixture was engrossing on the whole, with the French dominating matters in the first period before substitute Luis Suarez snatched what proved to be the decisive goal shortly after the break.
Suarez had arrived on the field as a halftime replacement for the ineffective Diego Forlan and immediately brought life to a previously flat Uruguay attack. Indeed, he had already threatened before latching on to an intelligent pass from Maxi Pereira, allowing him to cleverly get the better of some naive defending from debutant Eliaquim Mangala and dispatch from a tight angle past Steve Mandanda.
Otherwise the goalkeeper was largely a spectator, aside from a good save from Gaston Ramirez less than 10 minutes from time, as Fernando Muslera took the plaudits in the home goal.
During the opening period the Galatasaray shot-stopper was regularly drawn into action as Didier Deschamps’ men offered a frequent threat to the South Americans’ goal.
Dimitri Payet was the main goal threat. On several occasions he offered powerful efforts from range but the best of these, manufactured after cleverly evading both Diego Lugano and Walter Gargano, was pushed away by the flying custodian’s right hand. Too often, though, his efforts were directly at Muslera.
Perhaps France’s best effort came in the aftermath of a very rare Uruguayan attack. The hosts over-committed players forward from a corner kick and were caught drastically short at the back. Muslera, though, was off his line quickly to muffle any chance Yoann Gourcuff had of beating him after Payet released the Lyon man.
Halftime brought a slew of substitutions that benefited the hosts greatly. Suarez struck in the aftermath as France failed to get going once again and successfully change the course of the game.
Although the hosts rarely offered a significant threat, the string of chances that France enjoyed in the first period dried up. Indeed, an equalizer rarely looked on the cards and Yohan Cabaye’s late swerving drive was one of the few occasions Uruguay looked significantly troubled, though Muslera was again on hand to make the stop.
Although France boss Deschamps will be disappointed with the result, there was room for optimism due to the nature of the performance, though it is Uruguay, ahead of a vital World Cup qualifier next week in Venezuela, which will take the plaudits for the win.