Edinson Cavani scored the opening goal of the World Cup as Uruguay got the tournament under way in Russia with a 3-0 win over Serbia in Moscow, just a day after the nation’s U20s won in Toulon. His goal came shortly before the break following a great attacking move from Gaston Ramírez.
With pre-tournament focus on the introduction of VAR, it was the referee – Gianluca Rocci from Italy – who took centre-stage early on with a harsh 4th minute yellow card for Serbian midfielder Alexsandar Ignjovski. Serbia forced a trio of corners in the opening ten minutes, before Uruguay came closest when Cavani hit the post on a counter attack.
Cavani and Ramírez had further chances as Uruguay were comfortable on the ball, but Serbia looked dangerous at set pieces and Tadic and Dimcic both tested Muslera. Serbian midfielder Petar Dimcic® and his opposite number Aldon Guerra® both came off injured after a clash of heads, and within 30 seconds of the restart, Cavani struck.
Man-of-the-match Ramírez picked the ball up on halfway and surged towards goal, beating three Serbian defenders. Maksimovic, already cautioned, made a brave challenge just inside the box but the ball only fell as far as Cavani who drove it low past Aleksic.
Midway through the second half, Ramírez doubled the Uruguayan lead when he got on the end of a cross to the back post from substitute Mayada who had only been on the pitch sixty seconds. Nine minutes later, Ramírez had doubled his tally and sealed the win.
A rare second-half Serbian attack broke down in the final third and Uruguay worked the ball wide for Luis Suárez. Cutting inside and drawing defenders to him, he saw Ramírez unmarked coming in from the opposite flank. A neat chip over the top was met flush on the volley and the Milan midfielder made it 3-0 from 15 yards out.
Next for Uruguay are Spain on Thursday in Rostov.
FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP A URUGUAY 3-0 SERBIA Cavani 39 Ramírez 75, 84 Ramírez Ignjovski Maksimovic Ninkov