Uruguay can begin making travel plans for Brazil next year after thumping Jordan 5-0 in the first leg of their World Cup playoff in Amman. A return match awaits in Montevideo in a week’s time, but that will now be little more than a formality and a preparation exercise for Oscar Washington Tabarez’s men after this dominant performance.
First-half goals from Maxi Pereira and Cristian Stuani put Uruguay 2-0 up by the break and already with one foot in the finals. Further strikes by Nicolas Lodeiro, Cristian Rodriguez and the pick of the bunch from Edinson Cavani after half time, erased any doubt.
Jordan had secured a place in the tie by scraping past Uzbekistan on penalties in a previous playoff, while Uruguay had finished fifth in South American qualifying to take their berth in a playoff that has become a familiar route for them in recent qualifying campaigns. The pedigree of Uruguay -- two World Cup wins and a fourth-place finish in South Africa last time out -- contrasted sharply with the Jordanians, who have never been to soccer’s showpiece event. A one-sided contest always looked on the cards.
And it looked even more that way from the start in the Amman Stadium with Luis Suarez missing a clear chance inside five minutes. It did not take long for the visitors to go ahead, though, with Pereira following up Cavani’s saved header from close range midway through the opening period. Three minutes before half time the lead was doubled when Jordan’s defense and goalkeeper were all too acquiescing to allow Stuani to side foot into the net.
The second half may have been more interesting had Jordan forward Ahmad Ibrahim not missed a gilt-edged chance in front of goal from Adnan Hasan’s cross. Yet, even if that effort had found the net, it’s hard to think that the score line will have been greatly altered.
Uruguay put the tie beyond doubt in the final 25 minutes. First Lodeiro was able to chip in from the edge of the box from Cavani’s pull back despite slipping as he went to shoot. Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodriguez then had the freedom of the penalty area to control a cross from the left and slam the ball past Mohamad Shatnawi at the near post. And Uruguay’s performance was capped in fine style when Cavani got the goal his play deserved by curling a stunning free-kick into the far top corner of the net past the unmoved and beleaguered Jordan keeper.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.