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Uruguay 'put the brakes on' as Tabarez calms 'world champion' talk

9:15 PM WAT 25/06/2018
Luis Suarez Uruguay World Cup 2018
La Celeste won Group A without conceding a goal but their manager will not be getting carried away when it comes to their chances of going all the way

Oscar Tabarez was quick to shrug off suggestions Uruguay played like World Cup contenders in their 3-0 defeat of Russia on Monday.

Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani were both on target in Samara, either side of Denis Cheryshev's own goal and a red card for the hosts' Igor Smolnikov.

The win means Uruguay advance to the last 16 as winners of Group A, setting up a meeting with Portugal in Sochi on Saturday.

After scraping 1-0 victories over Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Uruguay were far more impressive against Russia but the experienced Tabarez knows now is not the time to get carried away.

Asked if his side "played like world champions", the 71-year-old replied: "Let me put the brakes on. We are satisfied with what the team did, we've already said this in previous press conferences.

"We said we wanted to improve and after qualifying this was a great opportunity against an opponent which has been doing their homework very well. We put ourselves to the test and got the result you all saw.

"Russia did not push us around, we prevented them from doing that but we also put them in their corner, at least in the first half.

"I think we could have won by even more goals and I also have to say we lack experience so we didn't manage to score on certain counter-attacks and there were some mistakes in execution.

"This just means we need to improve and very quickly because any match in the round of 16 will be extremely difficult."

Tabarez was glad to see his two main strikers on the scoresheet, but emphasised the importance of other players chipping in on that front.

"It's important for strikers to score goals," he said. "When they feel comfortable is when they score goals, it's not a matter of being selfish it's quite simply because strikers contribute a lot to the team.

"And in this World Cup, apart from the two you mentioned, behind those are others that have scored, like Maxi Gomez for example, we know as we improve our game we will offer opportunities to all our players to use their finishing skill.

"These players will be able to contribute for sure so I think that it's very important that both Cavani and Luis scored."