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 Americans 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 brilliant dummy by Cavani in the 42nd minute.
The tall Paris St. 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 from close range.
Jordan’s Egyptian coach Hossam Hassan had invoked Arab pride in his rallying cry before the match, saying his team carried the hopes of the entire Arab world, but the Uruguayans, with several of their stars playing in the European leagues, simply proved too good on the day.
The Jordanians, however, 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 scoring 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.