Sometimes ignorance can be bliss, such as when a London 2012 steward at Old Trafford turned to a colleague and asked: "Why do they keep booing Luis Suárez?" Mild-mannered pantomime jeers accompanied the Liverpool striker's every touch, tumble and appearance on the big screens on his return to Manchester United, but they were the least of his concerns as Uruguay secured a fortunate win over the United Arab Emirates.
Goals from Gaston Ramírez and Nicolás Lodeiro, with Suárez involved in both, enabled Uruguay to recover from a goal down and open their Olympic campaign with three points. But the watching Stuart Pearce, coach of Team GB and Group A rivals, will have taken more encouragement than counterpart Oscar Tabárez. The result may have been predictable but Uruguay's triumph was anything but straightforward.
According to Ismaeil Matar, UAE's captain, goalscorer and a striker known as the "Emirati Wayne Rooney", this was the biggest game of his and his team-mates' lives. If so, players accustomed to crowds of 1,000 back home flourished before an Old Trafford crowd that increased steadily towards 70,000 as kick-off time for Team GB approached.
Far from being overawed by the occasion or the opponent, UAE took the game to Uruguay from the start, their fondness for the audacious and at times completely unnecessary flick or back-heel delighting the crowd and unsettling one of the pre-tournament favourites. But there was substance to their performance, too.
Omar Abdulrahman, who plays his football for Al Ain, shredded the Uruguay midfield and defence with a glorious pass with the outside of his left foot to send Matar through on goal. The striker stumbled over his first touch, fortunately taking him around goalkeeper Martin Campaña, but steadied himself to ignore the presence of German Rolin and Liverpool's Sebastián Coates on the goalline and find the bottom corner. The boos for Suárez finally succumbed to chants of "UAE" around Old Trafford.
Ahmed Khalil should have doubled UAE's lead moments later but lost his footing with only Campaña to beat. A merited half-time lead beckoned when Amer Abdulrahman clipped Suárez 25 yards from goal. The resulting free-kick was Uruguay's one impressive touch of the first half; Ramírez sweeping a fine left foot shot into the top corner.
Ali Khaseif, the UAE goalkeeper, was nowhere near Ramirez's strike but made a fine save to deny nightclub bouncer-turned-defensive midfielder Egidio Arévalo as Uruguay took control of the second half. Suárez was to the fore increasingly down the left and it was from his twist inside Mohamed Ahmad that the Copa American champions sealed the win, substitute Lodeiro stealing in before his captain to find the far bottom corner.
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image: © Jimmy Baikovicius