Uruguay booked their place in the last 16 of the World Cup with a workmanlike 2-1 victory over Portugal, aided by two excellent goals by Edinson Cavani.
The game had barely had a chance to settle down before Uruguay were in front, Cavani linking up brilliantly with strike partner Luis Suarez to power in a bullet header from close range.
The early goal should have brought the match to life but even so the first half remained a tepid affair with few real chances to speak of, Suarez coming the closest to adding another goal when his low free-kick was well saved by Rui Patricio.
Portugal began the second half with a slight tweak in formation that saw Joao Mario and Bernardo Silva swap wings and subsequently showed more urgency in the second half, keeping Uruguay firmly penned back and finally getting their reward in the 55th minute when Pepe ghosted into the box to head home from Raphael Guerreiro’s pinpoint cross.
Yet despite Portugal’s dominance it only took a few minutes for Uruguay to restore their lead, Cavani racing onto a pass to curl home a beautiful first-time shot from the edge of the box.
Despite enjoying more than two thirds of the possession for much of the game, Portugal were unable to create many solid chances or cause any real trouble for the resolute Uruguayan defence.
Cristiano Ronaldo was a particularly anonymous figure for a great deal of the match, rarely finding himself in any positions of real danger and being forced to resort to efforts from long range.
Portugal could have had an equaliser in the 70th minute when Fernando Muslera failed to grab hold of a cross but the ball dropped for Bernardo Silva on his weaker foot and the Manchester City forward volleyed over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
And although Portugal toiled away and spent almost the entirety of the second half camped in Uruguay’s half, they were unable to claw their way back into the game.
With their victory at the 2016 European Championship now a fading memory, this defeat now raises serious questions about where Portugal.
Key players such as Ronaldo, Pepe, Bruno Alves and Ricardo Quaresma are now beginning to approach the twilight of their careers and are unlikely to be present at the next World Cup, meaning Portugal must look to their younger talents to lead the country forward as they bounce back from a disappointing campaign in Russia.
With few of these players managing to make a great impression at this World Cup, one could be forgiven for asking where Portugal will find the new leaders in their squad.
Uruguay will now look forward to their quarter-final tie with France on Friday and will expect to have their hands full after Les Bleus’ impressive 4-2 victory over Argentina earlier on Saturday.