Bregonis 15’, Benitez 64’
MAN OF THE MATCH: Simone Scuffet (Italy)
RAS AL KHAIMAH // An attack-minded Uruguay fought back from a goal down to beat Italy 2-1 and finish top of Group B, ahead of the knock-out stages.
Vittorio Paragini opened the scoring for the Italians, but Uruguay struck back through a Joel Bregonis header. Marcio Benitez completed his country’s comeback with a low drive midway through the second half.
The South Americans knew they needed at least a point to guarantee passage to the next round, so it was little surprise to see them take the game to Italy, who had already qualified thanks to 1-0 wins over Ivory Coast and New Zealand.
“The offensive side of our game is a key element of our set-up, so it was important for us that we maintained that,” Fabian Coito, the Uruguay coach, said. “Scoring twice against Italy, a team that had not conceded, gives us more confidence and finishing top of the group proves that we are strong.”
It had initially appeared only a matter of time before the Italian defence would be breached; Leandro Otormin and Gonzalo Latorre both threatening. Yet instead it was the Europeans who struck. Luca Vido, scorer of Italy’s goals in their previous games, turned provider, playing a brilliant ball across the goal that was bundled in by Paragini.
It was harsh on Coito’s team, but they did not need to wait long to equalise. A well-worked corner saw Gaston Faber hang the ball up at the back post, where it was met with by Bregonis, who directed his header downwards and out of reach of Simone Scuffet.
Italy edged possession, but only a fine save prevented Latorre giving his side the lead before half time.
Coito made a couple of changes early in the second period and his side completed the turnaround in the 64th minute. Otormin showed good feet to control a ball over the top and when it ricocheted into the path of Benitez the Nacional forward fired a low drive in at the near post.
“The substitutions Uruguay made changed the shape of a very close game,” Daniele Zoratto, the Italian coach, said. “For 60 minutes, this was our best performance of the three games, even though we got the results we wanted in the other matches.”
As Italy pushed for an equaliser, Uruguay could have added a third were it not for the impressive Scuffet, who thwarted good efforts by Otormin and the substitute Franco Acosta. The closest the Italians came to snatching a point fell to Vido, but the AC Milan forward’s touch was heavy.
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