One of the traditional powerhouses of South American football, Uruguay were hoping to prove their worth on the global stage this time around. They had been crowned Copa America champions both in 1983 and 1987, and in the latest edition, held in summer 1989 in Brazil, they had only been denied by the hosts, finishing 2nd in the tournament. Head coach Óscar Tábarez (1988– ) was no doubt leading one of the most talented sides on the continent, but would need to improve on the performance showed by the nation in the 1986 World Cup, where they had failed to live up to expectations and instead become subject to much criticism on the grounds of unsportmanlike conduct. There were clear signs of improvement in the latter respect, and led on by new captain Enzo Francescoli there was also hope that they could revive the nation’s pride in a World Cup once again. Read more . . .

Qualification campaign

Qualifier 1: Peru 0-2 Uruguay
27.08.1989, Estadio Nacional (Lima)
Goals: Sosa, Alzamendi 
Line-up (4-3-3): Pereira – Herrera, Gutiérrez, de León, Domínguez – Ostolaza (Correa 80), Perdomo, Paz (Bengoechea 76) – Alzamendi, Francescoli (c), Sosa
Group favourites Uruguay got their campaign under way with a professional away win in Lima, where they had let the hosts dominate possession. After a goalless first half, both wide forwards notched each their goal in the second 45, with Alzamendi first assisting and then scoring. Peru were lightweight and no real match for the rock solid Uruguayan rearguard, and with such defensive control, they could enjoy some quick transitions to catch the hosts off balance, a tactic which proved highly efficient on the day. 

Qualifier 2: Bolivia 2-1 Uruguay
03.09.1989, Estadio Hernando Siles (La Paz)
Goal: Sosa
Line-up (4-3-3): Pereira – Herrera (Bengoechea 78), Gutiérrez, de León, Domínguez – Ostolaza, Perdomo, Paz – Alzamendi, Francescoli (c), Sosa
Manager Tabárez had set his team up precisely like in Lima, but they were ultimately overpowered by a spirited home side and succumbed to the altitude. Uruguay gave a performance of less energy, and they were second best for large portions. The attacking quartet, which had been efficient in their transitions the previous week, failed to shine, though at least Sosa took his one opportunity well enough for the team to ‘only’ lose by the single goal margin. The entire midfield three were cautioned.

Qualifier 3: Uruguay 2-0 Bolivia
17.09.1989, Estadio Centenario (Montevideo)
Goals: Sosa, Francescoli
Line-up (4-3-3): Pereira – Herrera, Gutiérrez, de León, Domínguez – Ostolaza, Perdomo (Correa 79), Paz (Bengoechea 67) – Alzamendi, Francescoli (c), Sosa
Returning home to an almost packed Estadio Centenario, the Uruguayans still had qualification all in their own hands. They ‘just’ needed to win their two remaining matches. Tabárez had once again named the same starting eleven, and in a similar outline as for their two previous qualifiers. They went on to boss the game from start to finish, rarely allowing the table-topping visitors a sniff. Two first half goals ensured the win, and Sosa’s opener was the lethal forward’s third goal of the qualification. Uruguay would’ve been pleased to see Francescoli’s name on the scoresheet, too. Paz stood out from his attacking midfield role, and the hosts often worked their way along the left-sided channel. They could not add to their tally, although the visitors finished the game with nine men. Twice Uruguay could easily have been awarded a penalty, once in either half, Francescoli on the receiving end of some feisty tackles on both occasions. 

Qualifier 4: Uruguay 2-0 Peru
24.09.1989, Estadio Centenario (Montevideo)
Goals: Sosa (2)
Line-up (4-3-3): Pereira – Herrera, Gutiérrez, de León (c), Domínguez – Ostolaza, Correa, Bengoechea – Alzamendi, Paz, Sosa



Final position: 1 (out of 3 – qualified)
Total record: 4 3 0 1 7-2 6
Home record: 2 2 0 0 4-0 4
Away record: 2 1 0 1 3-2 2

Player statistics

Number of players used: 13
Number of players including unused substitutes: 19
Ever-presents (360 minutes): 6 (Eduardo Pereira, Gutiérrez, de León, Domínguez, Alzamendi, Sosa)
Leading goalscorer: Rubén Sosa (5)
Yellow/red cards:

– overview

– game by game

PlayerPer (a) Bol (a)Bol (h)Per (h)AppsMins
Pereira, Eduardo909090904360
de León909090904360
da SilvaRRRR
Pereira, RubénR

– ratings


Marlboro Cup 
02.02.1990: Uruguay 2-0 Colombia (neutral ground in Miami, USA)

Marlboro Cup
04.02.1990: Uruguay 2-0 Costa Rica (neutral ground in Miami, USA)

20.03.1990: Mexico 2-1 Uruguay (neutral ground in Los Angeles, USA)

25.04.1990: West Germany 3-3 Uruguay

18.05.1990: Northern Ireland 1-0 Uruguay

22.05.1990: England 1-2 Uruguay