Team GB 1-0 Uruguay: Sturridge sends hosts through as group winners to set up South Korea tie
Stuart Pearce's men progress as Group A winners after a relatively comfortable victory over the South Americans who have been poor throughout the competition
By Ryan Benson
Stuart Pearce's men controlled much of the match before some late pressure from the South Americans, and although there weren't many clear-cut chances in the first period, GB went into the break in the lead as Daniel Sturridge netted in stoppage time.
In a similar fashion to the first period, chances hardly flowed after half-time, but Sturridge almost got a second late on as he forced Martin Campana in the Uruguay goal to tip his effort round the post, while Gaston Ramirez came close with a stinging drive that crashed off the bar in injury time.
Pearce made three changes to the team that beat UAE 3-1 with James Tomkins, Ryan Giggs and Marvin Sordell dropping to the bench in favour of Ryan Bertrand, Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez also made a number of changes, as Matias Aguirregaray, Diego Rodriguez and former AC Milan youngster Tabare Viudez replaced Emiliano Arias, Nicolas Lodeiro and Maxi Calzado, respectively.
The hosts started in positive fashion with Craig Bellamy getting plenty of involvement from the off, as the Welshman crossed in from the right, but Scott Sinclair's back-post header was blocked at the critical stage.
GB continued to press the Uruguayans and some good work by Aaron Ramsey down the left won a corner, from which Alexis Rolin was forced to clear just in front of the goal line after Steven Caulker beat Sebastian Coates in the air.
However, moments later Coates did triumph in the air and came close to giving his side the lead as the Liverpool man nodded Luis Suarez's left-wing free-kick over the bar, but he should have at least hit the target.
Bellamy and Ramsey were having an impressive first-half and they linked up excellently down the right as the forward played a disguised pass inside to the Arsenal man who fizzed a smart ball across the penalty area, but it sailed through without anyone getting contact on it.
Coates was soon causing aerial problems once again for GB, connecting with Diego Rodriguez's corner, heading it downwards towards goal before it bounced up and struck Joe Allen, leading to intense calls for a penalty, however replays showed the ball quite clearly hit the Swansea man in the chest.
After imposing a significant amount of control over Uruguay, GB finally took the lead in first-half added time, and it was brilliantly worked.
Scott Sinclair cut inside before slipping an inch-perfect pass in behind the defence for Allen. The Wales international cut the ball back and found Sturridge amidst a crowd of players in the area, but the Chelsea man was able to poke the ball into an open goal, allowing Stuart Pearce's side to go into the break in the lead.
With just over a minute played in the second-half, GB looked destined to double their lead as Ramsey fantastically released Bellamy down the right, and Sinclair headed the 33-year-old’s cross back across goal to Sturridge who somehow knocked the ball onto the post from a yard out, but his blushes were spared as the linesman flagged for offside.
After a quiet opening 53 minutes, pantomime villain Suarez burst into life as he out-muscled Caulker, before breezing past Richards and running across Jack Butland, but his shot was smothered well by the 19-year-old goalkeeper and the hosts were able to clear as Uruguay threatened to come alive.
GB were still looking comfortable, but Uruguay attacked with promise again just past the hour mark as Suarez shot left-footed from the edge of the area, but Butland got down very well to his left, while the desperately poor Edinson Cavani smashed the rebound into the side-netting from a narrow angle.
The hosts were straight back on the attack a few moments later and Neil Taylor's curling left-footed strike from the corner of the penalty area almost snuck inside the far post, but it sailed narrowly wide.
With victory and three points in sight, GB began to sit back an unnecessary amount, inviting Uruguayan pressure and Suarez almost had a chance following a Ramirez knock down, but the Liverpool man was given a yellow card for effectively catching the ball, yet amazingly still had the audacity to contest the decision.
Uruguay's newly-found attacking belief was testing GB's defensive quality, with the South American side's main threat coming from Coates at set-pieces, but the young defender first headed on to the back of Micah Richards' head, and then nodded wide.
A brilliant solo run from Sturridge almost ended in the forward doubling his tally for the night as he marched on by himself from the halfway line before beating Rolin and shooting towards the far post, but Campana tipped it round his right-hand post.
Tabarez's men were continuously attempting to wind-up their hosts, and although they to hit the bar through Ramirez in stoppage time, they were unable to get the goals they needed and GB held on for the win.
Great Britain U-23
- Own Goal
- Penalty Missed
- Yellow Card
- Penalty Save
- Penalty Shootout Goal
- Penalty Shootout Miss
- Yellow Card / Red Card
- Red Card
- Substitution IN
- Substitution OUT
- Goal.com Rating
- Goal.com Man of the Match
- Goal.com Flop of the Match
- Top & Flop Global Ranking
- Fans' Man of the Match
- Fans' Flop of the Match