Uruguay struggle without Luis Suarez in World Cup warm-up win over Northern Ireland
MONTEVIDEO // Uruguay missed the clinical finishing of convalescent Luis Suarez when they beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in a World Cup warm-up on Friday.
Only a fine display by visiting goalkeeper Roy Carroll and a poor final touch by the home side in front of goal at the Centenario, site of the first World Cup final won by Uruguay in 1930, prevented a rout.
Substitute Christian Stuani, who came on at half-time for Diego Forlan, put the dominant Uruguayans ahead in the 61st minute from fellow striker Edinson Cavani’s pass.
Suarez, England’s Footballer of the Year after a brilliant season for Liverpool, is recovering from knee cartilage surgery eight days ago that put his presence at the Brazil finals in doubt.
He has been given a 50-50 chance of making it to the tournament in the 23-man squad coach Oscar Tabarez must name by Monday’s deadline.
Uruguay are in a tough Group D along with fellow former world champions Italy and England plus Costa Rica, opening against the latter on June 14.
“We have trouble opening spaces and today was no different. Although we created chances we weren’t too clear [headed] but I think we were obviously fair winners,” Uruguay captain Diego Lugano said.
“We tried to attack on the outside but the secret of our success will be in the intensity with which we mark, win the ball and strategically counter-attack.”
Carroll made two great saves in quick succession in the first half from Cavani then the rebound from Forlan – hitting his head on the post as he made the second but soon getting back on his feet.
The 36-year-old former Manchester United keeper, now at Olympiakos Piraeus, also saved from Forlan with his chest two minutes into first half stoppage time while Cavani hit the rebound wide.
Forlan, voted best player at the 2010 finals in South Africa, had a fine first half in Suarez’s place up front and Gaston Ramirez showed good form on the right side of midfield creating chances.
Defender Sebastian Coates, recently back from injury, was possibly playing for a place in Tabarez’s definitive squad in Diego Godin’s absence.
Godin, captain Diego Lugano’s regular centre back partner, only recently joined the squad in Montevideo after playing for Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final last Saturday.
Uruguay have a final preparation match against Slovenia at the same venue next Wednesday, while the Irish move on to Valparaiso to give another warm-up to Chile.
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Published: May 31, 2014 04:00 AM