Los Charruas waited 48 years for an opening day win at the World Cup. Despite being two-time champions, Uruguay hadn’t won their first group stage match since 1970, drawing three and losing three.

That wait looked like it would continue for another four years, as the first 88 minutes of their game saw Egypt hold on for what would have been a well-fought point. Alas, it was not to be for Hector Cuper and the Pharoahs, as Jose Gimenez rose highest to send a dagger through Egypt and their goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy’s hearts.

Of course, Egypt were without their talisman, Mohamed Salah who was not risked by Cuper three weeks after sustaining an injury in the Champions League final. Eventually, it was the lack of a player who could hold onto the ball in the final stages that cost the losing team dearly.

But first..,

Suarez has a frustrating outing

Jimenez not only gave his team the points, but also saved Luis Suarez’s blushes. The Barcelona man was all over the place, thwarted by a combination of some excellent keeping from El Shenawy and some poor touches of his own.

True, he didn’t bite anybody or handle the ball but the 31-year-old was out of sorts in the first half, failing to link up with Edinson Cavani as the duo were playing too far apart. Tabarez’s tweaks in the second half meant that Uruguay played far wider later on with fresh wingers introduced.

That gave Suarez more room to operate in the middle and when he was put through by Cavani, he managed to spurn two golden chances. Tabarez will also have plenty to ponder upon as Rodrigo Bentancur and the rest of the young midfield seemed to be a tad lost in the occasion.

The 71-year-old needs to find the right balance between his highly rated youth charges and the experienced substitutes if he is to truly realise Uruguay’s potential in Russia. One thing is for certain; Uruguay weren’t at a 100% against Egypt.

Uruguay’s progression depends upon Godin and Jimenez

Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeper Jan Oblak has a wonderful statistic to his name this season; he has more clean sheets to his name than he has let in goals. While Oblak in his own right, is up there with the best of the business, in front of him are two men who just seem to love the art of defending and the hardness that comes with it.

Both Atleti’s men are now a pairing for Uruguay at the World Cup and they were rock solid at the back for Oscar Tabarez’s men. Godin, the 32-year-old is a class apart from many centre-backs at this tournament.

The man from Rosario may not have the same PR rep as a Thiago Silva, Sergio Ramos or Raphael Varane but he is fearless and is not afraid to put his body on the line to deny the opposition a shot at goal or a one-on-one chance with the keeper.

Gimenez is learning from the best and the presence of one of the best defenders on this planet next to him only makes him a better centre-back. Both are not averse to contributing in attack as Godin was near Egypt’s box at the end, sending balls in and even trying to get on the end of one. As for his partner, his majestic leap at the end bagged the three points for his team.

Look across the best World Cup squads and it’s difficult to argue that any of Sergio Ramos-Gerard Pique, Jerome Boateng-Mats Hummels, Raphael Varane-Samuel Umtiti are better than Godin-Jimenez. For all their attacking riches, it could be this pairing that take Uruguay deep into Russia 2018.

Egypt need their saviour

The big news coming out of the Egyptian camp was that Mohammad Salah started the game on the bench, despite assurance from coach Cuper that he was a 100% fit.

Cuper had made three substitutions by the 80th minute, the first forced due to an injury to Tarek Hamed and by the time that Gimenez scored, it was all but over for the Pharoahs who struggled to retain the ball in the last ten minutes as Uruguay stepped up the intensity.

In attack, Egypt got the ball forward but struggled to create clear openings all match and only looked to stretch Uruguay on the counter when substitute Karbaha came on.

Cuper’s team were defensively rigid in a 4-2-3-1 set-up and anyone who knows the ex-Valencia manager will know that the wily old fox prefers the art of defence over everything else. The more expansive Ramadhan Sobhy was dropped for Amr Warda in a tactical gamble which worked for the first 80 minutes.

Keeping Salah in reserve could be a move which pays off later as they come up against Russia and Saudi Arabia. The twin acts of unleashing the Liverpool star and Cuper himself releasing the handbrakes should make Egypt a handful for their opponents.

But on Friday, all Salah could do was look on dejectedly from the sidelines as his team suffered a heartbreaking defeat.