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2017 U-20 World Cup round-up, round of 16: Uruguay nudges past Saudi Arabia

Uruguay moves on to play Portugal in the quarterfinals.

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Uruguay was expected to win this game, and its group stage form - two wins and a draw; three goals scored, none conceded - suggested a narrow win was not unlikely. This Uruguay team likes to play its opponent close, for reasons not entirely clear. The 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia was in keeping with expectations of the Uruguayans ability and the manner in which they have been winning games of late.

But the Saudis weren't far away from at least threatening to upset the perception that Uruguay is on its way to the final of the 2017 Men's U-20 World Cup. The top team out of South American qualifying had more of the ball and more chances, but arguably not the better chances. In the end, what separated the teams was Uruguay won a penalty and Saudi Arabia did not.

Nicolas de la Cruz converted from the spot for Uruguay in the 50th minute, and the Saudis never found a way back into the game.

By virtue of kicking off a day later than South Korea and Japan, Saudi Arabia was the last Asian qualifier eliminated fro this tournament. The host confederation won't have representation in the quarterfinals.

Uruguay moves on to play Portugal in the next round. The Portuguese finally looked like a team able to harness the sum of its talented parts against South Korea in the round of 16. Part of the reason Uruguay's games have been so close to date is that it was in a competitive group, so there will be no concern about playing an in-form or well-regarded opponent on the Uruguayan side of the ball. But Portugal will look at the tape of this game and imagine it might have done a better job getting the ball in the net than Saudi Arabia.

The first quarterfinal match-up to be set - Uruguay vs Portugal on June 4 - looks to likely to be a good one.