Uruguay maintained their remarkable run of clean sheets as they blanked 10-man Russia 3-0 in their 2018 FIFA World Cup Group A tie at the Samara Arena on Monday, topping the group in the process thanks to goals from vaunted forwards Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.

Suarez opened the scoring with a smart free-kick, low and around the wall, in the 22nd minute as hosts Russia were sent crashing back to earth.

After back-to-back wins against Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the host nation were soaring high but against an Uruguay side hitting their stride at the right time, they were well-beaten.

Denis Cheryshev, their hero so far, inadvertently became the villain as he turned the ball into his own net in the 23rd minute and matters quickly went from bad to worse for the Russians as Igor Smolnikov was given his marching orders late in the first-half.

The tie was effectively over with the dismissal, with the only question remaining how many more would Uruguay score as the game got more frenetic and stretched.

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Only one more and it was Edinson Cavani, after a night full of frustration at missed chances, who converted from close range in the 90th minute.

Much has been made of the form of Croatia and Belgium, not to mention England, but two-time champions Uruguay have definitely emerged as contenders and are definitely not a team you would want to face at this stage.

Spain and Portugal are likely to emerge from Group B and depending on how they do later on Monday, will face either Uruguay or Russia in the round of 16.

Currently, the Iberian nations are tied with four points apiece with an identical goal difference, but Spain are topping the group due to their better fair play record (fewer yellow cards).