By Moayed Mohamed
Uruguay punished Jordan with clinical finishing to crush them 5-0 in the playoff first leg and all but end the West Asian team’s hopes of a first World Cup finals appearance.
The South American champions were not at their brilliant best in Amman on Wednesday, but the multi-million dollar firepower they possess proved far too much for the plucky underdogs.
Maximiliano Pereira, Cristian Stuani, Nicolas Lodeiro and Cristian Rodriguez all took chances before Edinson Cavani scored a brilliant free kick to complete the rout..
“We knew we had to take advantage of every chance we got and I think that’s what happened,” Uruguay striker Luis Suarez told reporters.
Surprise packages Jordan, competing at the final stage of qualifying for the first time, had a couple of early half chances themselves before Pereira opened the scoring in the 22nd minute.
The home side were 2-0 down at halftime after Stuani’s strike but wasted a glorious opportunity at the start of the second period when Ahmad Ibrahim blasted wide from close range when it looked impossible to miss.
“We played very good football in the first 20 minutes of the game and we matched the stars of Uruguay and the result would be different if we exploited two chances we created,” Salah Sabra, vice president of the Jordan FA, told Reuters.
Twice world champions Uruguay made Jordan pay for the missed efforts with Lodeiro and Rodriguez taking advantage of tired defending before Cavani scored a stunning strike in the final seconds.
“(Jordan) are a team that pressure you a lot, they knew what they wanted and were hopeful,” Uruguay captain Diego Lugano said.
“The result does not reflect the match but luckily we have a team with scoring capabilities and that’s why we’re closer (to Brazil).”
Paris St Germain forward Cavani, signed for a reported 64 million euros ($85.79 million) in July, praised the efforts of Jordan.
“As it finished 5-0 to us, it looks like it was easy but it wasn’t at all easy,” he said.
“They have a combative team who were surely up to the match and didn’t want to miss their chance (to qualify), but Uruguay responded with a lot of will and skill.”
The Uruguayans finished fourth in the last World Cup in South Africa and possessed more than enough quality to book an automatic berth for Brazil by finishing in one of the top four spots in South American qualifying.
A stuttering campaign, though, meant all they could manage was fifth and a playoff against Jordan, who finished fifth in Asia.
“The South American qualifiers are the most difficult in the world,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said.
“There’s a difference between a team that gets into fifth place in South America and another in second in another continent.”