FIFA World Cup 2018: Uruguay all the way, says coach Oscar Tabarez
Coach Oscar Tabarez backs his side to reach the World Cup final after Edinson Cavani's brace knocks out Euro champs Portugal in pre-quarters
Oscar Tabarez says Uruguay have set their sights on the World Cup final after an Edinson Cavani brace saw off Portugal in the last 16. Uruguay - dark horses at the showpiece event - advanced to the quarter-finals thanks to Saturday's 2-1 victory against the European champions here.
Cavani, who picked up an injury late in the game, was the hero for Uruguay, scoring in each half to send Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal home. Uruguay will next face France for a spot in the semi-finals and head coach Oscar Tabarez told reporters post-match at Fisht Stadium that his team is planing to go all the way now. "We are here to play all seven matches up until the final," said Tabarez.
Uruguay's Luis Suarez and Diego Godin celebrate their win over Portugal on Saturday
The South Americans had less possession than Portugal but were far more clinical in attack courtesy of Cavani along the coast of the Black Sea. A stunning piece of combination play between Cavani and Luis Suarez resulted in an early lead - the duo playing two exceptional cross-field passes before the former opened the scoring with a header to shock Portugal.
Pepe managed to restore parity for Portugal 11 minutes into the second half, but Cavani stepped up again to put Uruguay 2-1 ahead seven minutes later. Speaking about Uruguay's style and their willingness to concede possession, Tabarez said: "Ever since the World Cup in South Africa, the only team who had same level of possession was South Africa. We were fourth in the rankings. We had excellent results there [reaching the semi-finals].
"There is very often a mistaken assumption that possession leads to scoring chances. I learnt that [working] in Italy. In Italy we tried to improve. [Some things] led to not being able to play ball possession like that. But if you are strong in defence, then even if you don't have too much of the possession, you can still inflict pain.
"We won't continue to play just like this but we will always choose the way that's best for us and the opponent allows us to play because the opponents are becoming more and more difficult. We are in the place we want to be at this moment but we maybe not where most expected us to be."
On Friday, Uruguay will come up against a France team flying high thanks to Kylian Mbappe's scintillating double in a 4-3 triumph over Argentina in Kazan. Antoine Griezmann was also on target as France eliminated Lionel Messi and 2014 finalists Argentina. "France have a very strong point and that is their two strikers - Mbappe and Griezmann," Tabarez added.
"So much pace. As soon as they get a chance, they are devastating. Argentina defenders struggled to keep with them."
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