Uruguay are almost assured of their place in next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil after battering Jordan 5-0 in their intercontinental playoff first leg on Wednesday.
The South American giants, sixth in the FIFA rankings, overcame a few tense minutes at the start of the game at the packed Amman International Stadium to seal an emphatic victory against the 70th ranked Jordanians who failed to live up to the hype and expectation generated in their own country.
Benfica defender Maxi Pereira put the South American side ahead in the 22nd minute with a simple tap-in after an Edinson Cavani header was parried by Jordanian goalkeeper Abdulla al-Zubi.
The two-time world champions consolidated their lead through Espanyol striker Christian Stuani who sneaked the ball under al-Zubi after a brilliant dummy by Cavani in the 42nd minute.
The Paris Saint-Germain star ducked under a throw-in to allow the ball to reach Nicolas Lodeiro and the Botafogo midfielder clipped the ball to Stuani who beat al-Zubi with an easy shot.
“I expected that the team would face difficulties, and win, but not with that number of goals,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said after the game. “We have become closer to the World Cup, and all the stars of the team will play next Wednesday’s match.”
Tabarez praised the Jordanians saying they were “tough and played well.”
Jordan’s Egyptian coach Hossam Hassan said his team carried the hopes of the entire Arab world, but the Uruguayans proved too good.
“I bear full responsibility. I wanted to make Jordanian fans happy, but things did not work as we wished,” Hassan said.
The Jordanians had one clear chance, but Ibrahim al-Zawareh inexplicably fired wide from close range after Shareef Adnan had done all the hard work on the right early in the second half.
Thereafter it was Uruguay all the way, Lodeiro scored the third goal in the 69th minute after poor defending by the Jordanians allowed Cavani to get behind the back four.
Cristian Rodriguez got on the scoresheet in the 76th minute with a half-volley from close range and Cavani, easily the star of the match, finished off the game with a brilliant free-kick from outside the penalty area in added time.