Mahdi Redha Ali's side outplayed their opponents in the first half but Oscar Tabarez's favourites rallied from a goal down to take all three points at Old Trafford
Uruguay came from a goal down to beat an impressive UAE side 2-1 in their Olympic Games Group A opener.
Ismail Matar showed a cool head to give the underdogs a shock lead but a superb free kick from Gaston Ramirez and a fine finish from Nicolas Lodeiro gave Oscar Tabarez's side all three points.
Tabarez named a strong starting line-up, which included Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez for Uruguay’s first Olympic Games since 1928. The United Arab Emirates qualified unbeaten for the tournament and Mahdi Redha Ali’s side went into the game targeting a point.
Both sides had similar opportunities early on with Matar coming close to turning in Ahmed Kalil’s cross for the UAE before Cavani failed to make contact with Ramon Arias’ ball into the box.
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The breakthrough came after 20 minutes with the UAE taking a surprising, but deserved, lead. Omar Abdulrahman found Matar with a superb pass using the outside of his boot before the striker skipped around the goalkeeper and slotted his shot past two defenders on the line.
And Redha Ali’s men almost doubled their lead moments later when Kalil found himself one-on-one against Martin Campana, but the Uruguayan shotstopper got down well to keep his side in touching distance.
Campana was pushed into action twice on the half-hour mark as first Rashed Eisa skipped past Arias but couldn’t find a way past the keeper from a tight angle before Matar went inches from grabbing his second with a headed effort from Abdulrahman’s cross.
For all of the UAE’s chances, a brilliant free kick from Uruguay’s Ramirez gave Tabarez’s men an equaliser just before the break. The Bologna midfielder whipped a left-footed shot past the helpless Housani Ali Khaseif to give his team an equaliser against the run of play.
A well struck shot from Egidio Arlevaro stung the hands of the Ali Khaseif as Uruguay began to take control in the second half, but the South American side did not have to wait long to take the lead as half-time substitute Lodeiro fired home in clinical fashion after good play from Suarez to put La Celeste ahead.
The UAE didn’t carry the same threat as they had in the first period with their charges beginning to tire, and Tabarez’s side looked perfectly comfortable holding on to their lead with a quarter of the game still left to play.
Uruguay play Senegal in their next game on Sunday, while the UAE taken on Great Britain.