Edinson Cavani of Uruguay celebrates scoring during the 2018 FIFA World Cup round of 16 match between Uruguay and Portugal in Sochi, Russia, June 30, 2018. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)
SOCHI, Russia, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Uruguay conceded their first Russia World Cup goal in the last 16 clash against Portugal but Edinson Cavani's double sent them through to the quarterfinals here on Saturday at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.
They will next face France, who had earlier knocked out Lionel Messi's Argentina 4-3.
Forward of Paris Saint-Germain, Cavani scored once at each half of the match, before he was injured and left the pitch supported by Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo.
Portugal, after their impressive performances in four matches, will go home, and Real Madrid forward Ronaldo's fourth World Cup journey finished earlier than expected.
Great efforts were mounted by the European Champions, who, in the 55th minute, for the first time at this World Cup struck a ball into the tightly-guarded Uruguay net.
Portugal have progressed from the group stage of the World Cup for the fourth time in their history. They pressured hard from the beginning but it was Uruguay scored first.
The stunner came in the 7th minute, when Cavani passed the ball to Luis Suarez from the right. The Barcelona striker cut in and curled back, finding Cavani who headed the ball into the top right.
It was the 12th goal that Suarez has assisted for Cavani.
The pair had good cooperation again seven minutes later. Cavani sent a cross into the box where Suarez, however, could hardly get a decent shot.
Portugal had more than 60 percent of possession, which they found hard to translate into a goal.
Ronaldo had a brilliant shuffle on the right, and then Joao Mario crossed to Bernardo Silva. But the header from the Manchester City midfielder was off-target.
Ronaldo, second on the scorers' list with four goals, then fired from more than 20 meters away, but the shot was received by Uruguay's goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
The European Champions almost equalized soon after the goal, as Jose Fonte nodded on a cross from Borussia Dortmund defender Raphael Guerreiro, which was wide.
Their efforts finally yielded before the hour's mark. Following a corner, Ronaldo rose up, but it was the unmarked Pepe, 35, who sent home the header from behind, as the oldest Portugal player to score at a World Cup and for the first time here in Russia to strike a ball into the net of Uruguay.
But the draw didn't last long.
Seven minutes later Rodrigo Bentancur dribbled to the box and delivered a well-weighted pass to Cavani, who lashed the ball into the far corner.
Portugal were so close to level again in the 70th minute when Silva's drove the shot above the bar.
Portugal have lost each of their last nine World Cup games in which they've conceded the first goal. They have had a chance to top Group B while leading in the third round of group match against Iran in the first half, but the game ended in a draw ultimately after a controversial penalty goal from the opponent.
"Congratulations to Uruguay, it is very sad for Portugal though," said Fernando Santos, coach of Portugal who has reached the knockout stages in major tournament for the fourth time -- twice with Greece and twice with Portugal.
"But I do feel that the second half was very good from us in terms of desire and our determination to score. We tried our best and we played a good game I think," he said.
The 33-year-old Ronaldo made most appearances at World Cups and European Championships among all players since his debut in 2004. Named as World's best player on five occasions by FIFA, he led his country to win the first European Championships trophy in 2016. Last time in Sochi, he scored a hat-trick against Spain in what was one of Russia World Cup's most spectacular match.
"Cristiano still has a lot to give to football and I hope he will stay to help the young players grow and develop," said Santos. "We have a team with many young players and of course we all want him there with us."
Oscar Tabarez, the Uruguay coach, praised the dedication of the players showed on the pitch. "That is the way that we see football," he said.
"It was difficult," he continued. "Portugal had more possession and were often in our half of the pitch, and it would have been better for us to have more of the ball and play the game closer to their goal. But we have a very strong team in terms of our mindset."
They will play against France in Nizhny Novgorod on July 6.
"Cavani sustained an injury tonight and we will have to see how that evolves as it's not clear at this stage how serious it is," he said. "We know that France will be very tough indeed. They have two exceptional strikers, Griezmann and Mbappe - they're very fast indeed. It will be very difficult for us. But we will try our best and look to impose our way of playing on them, using our strengths. "
"We are here to play all seven matches, right up until the final, and we will see what happens," he said.