Uruguay Secured World Cup Place

Passion, desire and unity, it turns out, can carry you only so far. This was the biggest game in Jordan’s football history, but they were undone by a Uruguay side who remained admirably unfazed by a raucous crowd and had the quality to take the chances that came their way.

This was a comfortable victory and next week’s second leg should be no more than a formality at which Uruguay will book their place at the World Cup, where they will be one of the eight seeds.

This was a crowd primed, at least at first, to be positive about everything: when the goalkeeper Mohammad Shatnawi threw himself forward to punch away a dinked Luis Suárez free-kick he could easily have stood still and caught, the place went wild. It got even more excited after 18 minutes as Odai al-Saify’s mishit cross forced Martín Silva into an awkward save at the near post.

But those, really, were scraps of comfort. Jordan never mounted the sort of early surge the throbbing stadium might have lifted them to, and Uruguay always looked the more composed side. Suárez had already almost played in Christian Stuani when his 22nd-minute cross from the right found Edinson Cavani at the back post. His header was saved by Shatnawi, who was again perhaps needlessly spectacular, the ball rolling across goal for Maxi Pereira to stab in.

There were flickers of quality from Jordan, but there was a tendency to panic when there was the chance of a decisive pass, the local favourite Khalil Baniateyah in particular prone to hitting wildly speculative efforts from preposterous range.

The sense was of Uruguay biding their time, playing within themselves, just waiting to pick off the home side. Sure enough, five minutes before half-time, Cavani cleverly dummied a throw from the left to create space for Nicolás Lodeiro, who slipped a pass for Stuani to add the second.

Even the arrival of King Abdullah shortly after half-time provided only a temporary lift. Ahmed Ibrahim shot wide from close range after 51 minutes and, if he had converted, perhaps Jordan might have been able to mount some pressure. As it was, Uruguay simply bided their time and scored a third, Lodeiro clipping in Cavani’s cut-back from the edge of the box.

Cristian Rodríguez thumped in a fourth and in injury time Cavani whipped in a fifth from a free-kick, by which time the crowds had long since started heading for the exits, all optimism having drained away.

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