Alvaro Pereira's first half strike was enough to seal second place in Group C for the South Americans, who will now face hosts Argentina in the last eight
Alvaro Pereira's goal on the quarter-hour mark gave Oscar Tabarez's men all three points, and the victory sets up a mouth-watering quarter-final clash against hosts Argentina on Saturday.
Both teams were tense during the initial stages, with more than a few attacking moves halted by untimely slips on the rain-soaked pitch. Perhaps befitting the disjointed tone of the opening exchanges, it was a scrappy goal from Uruguay that opened the scoring 15-minutes in.
After Luis Suarez was fouled, Diego Forlan sent a teasing free kick into the crowded Mexican box which took a deflection on its way to goal. Luis Michel saw it late, and could only palm the ball into the path of Pereira, who made no mistake from a yard out.
It took Mexico 24 minutes to register their first real chance of the match, when Giovani dos Santos broke free down the left flank and forced a decent save from Fernando Muslera, who had been merely a spectator up until that point.
However, that chance proved to be something of an aberration amid increasing Uruguayan pressure, and Tabarez’s men nearly doubled their lead on the half hour mark. Maxi Pereira did well to squeeze in a cross under pressure from the right byline. His pass evaded the Mexican defence and found Forlan, who had time to control the ball, but somehow struck the post from less than 10 yards out.
Uruguay then had another opportunity to grab a second on 36 minutes. Suarez found space and let fly with a bouncing shot from 25 yards out, which Michel did well to tip wide. It proved to be the last meaningful action before referee Raul Orosco blew the whistle for half-time.
Pereira on target | Lone goal sets up quarter-final clash against Argentina
The South Americans continued to press in the second half, and Forlan should have done better on 63 minutes when he skied Suarez’s deft cross over the bar from six yards out. Moments later, Forlan turned provider for Suarez when he released his strike partner through on goal, but the Liverpool man disappointingly placed his finish wide of the far post.
The chances continued to come for Uruguay, and substitute Nicolas Lodeiro struck the post after he was picked out by lively Suarez on 72 minutes. Not long after that, Forlan carved his way into the box, but once again, his finish deserted him as he fired the ball high over the crossbar.
Uruguay could not find the clinching second goal, and were almost made to pay for their profligacy with 10 minutes remaining. Marquez Lugo was certain that he had equalised for Mexico after turning in a free kick, but replays showed that he strayed fractionally offside, and the linesman’s flag halted the celebrations.
It proved to be the closest that the North Americans would get to an equaliser, and Uruguay saw out the last few minutes to seal their place in the last eight.
The win sees Uruguay finish second in Group C on five points, which ensures a date with Group A runners-up Argentina in the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, Mexico crash out of the tournament at the bottom of the group, having failed to pick up a single point in any of their three games.
Peru also qualify for the last eight, by virtue of their superior record to Group A third-placed team Costa Rica.