• Uruguay were defeated by France in the quarter-finals of Russia 2018
  • A mistake by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera put paid to any attempts at a comeback
  • Defender Jose Gimenez, only 23 himself, paid tribute to the team’s young players
By Florencia Simoes with Uruguay

“We’re sad because our dream of going all the way is over,” Jose Gimenez told FIFA.com. Unable to hide his extreme disappointment after his team’s loss to France in the last eight of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, the Uruguay centre-back said, “It really hurts us deeply because we had our hearts set on something else, and although we battled to the end, we’re leaving empty-handed.”

The Atletico Madrid defender already had tears in his eyes, brought on by the sadness and helplessness of the situation, in the 88th minute of Friday’s match. He was helping to form a wall to block a French free-kick, following a foul he had committed, when it struck him that La Celeste were heading out of Russia 2018, and that there was very little he could do to prevent their elimination.

After remaining unbeaten for four matches, and conceding just one goal against Portugal in the previous round, the Uruguayans fell to a 2-0 defeat and were forced to bid farewell to this World Cup. “The match panned out largely as we expected it to – it was very tense, with both teams looking to capitalise on any mistakes,” he said. In the end, it was _Los Charrúas, _who committed the errors that proved crucial to the result.

Although he is only 23, Gimenez is practically regarded as one of the veterans of the team, having previously starred at Brazil 2014. That experience puts him in a different category from the new faces in the side, such as Matias Vecino, Lucas Torreira, Rodrigo Bentancur and Diego Laxalt, who were all brought in by coach Oscar Tabarez to inject some new blood into a battle-worn squad.

“I’ve already been part of the national set-up for several years, but this batch of young players has really opened our eyes,” he said. “They gave all they had in every game and have now built up valuable experience that will serve them well on the long road ahead.”

And that new generation is, according to Gimenez, here to stay. “I think it’s the start of something new,” he confirmed, his eyes still red from the match. “The young guys have made a great contribution because they’ve brought real energy to the team. They have an incredible desire to compete and to succeed.”


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