Mahdi Redha Ali's side out played their opponents in the first half but Oscar Tabarez's men rallied from a goal down to take all three points in the Group A opener at Old Trafford
A well taken goal from Ismail Matar gave the UAE a shock lead but goals either side of half time for Uruguay, first a superb free-kick from Gaston Ramirez and then 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 and Cavani failing to make contact with Ramon Arias’ ball into the box.
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.
Redha’s men almost doubled their lead moments later when Kalil found himself one-on-one against Martin Campana, but the Uruguayan stopper got down well to keep his side in touching distance.
Campana was pressed into action twice on the half hour as first Rashed Eisa skipped past Arias but couldn’t find a way past the keeper from a tight angle. Matar then came inches from grabbing his second with a headed effort from Abdulrahman’s cross which sailed wide.
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 and moments later 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 as their players began to tire, with Tabarez’s side looking more comfortable with their lead with a quarter of the game to play.
Redha Ali’s side continued to pass and probe for an opening but the South American’s were more than content to sit deep with two banks of four and look for Suarez and Cavani on the break.
Another fine pass from Abdulrahman found Ahmed Kalil late on but the striker dragged his first time shot wide of the mark and Uruguay held on to take all three points.
Uruguay play Senegal in their next game on Sunday, while the UAE taken on Great Britain.