MONTEVIDEO, Uy. -- Defender Martin Caceres put away Uruguay's victory with a brilliant headed corner in the 65th minute versus Chile in a 3-0 win at the Estadio Centenario.
Caceres's laser past the Chilean defense was the latter of a pair of goals scored by Los Charruas in a matter of less than five minutes. The Juventus defender got a great jump deep in the box and got his head on an uncontested near-post header that keeper Claudio Bravo had not a chance on.
The Uruguayan side had taken their first lead at 1-0 in the 23rd minute, directly following an intense skirmish between Gary Medel and Diego Godin after a foul by Gonzalo Jara on Edinson Cavani, from whom Jara drew an ejection from at the 2015 Copa America this past summer in Chile. On the ensuing free kick, La Roja cleared right into the disastrous shot of Mathias Corujo, however the ball ricocheted straight to Sebastian Coates who fed Godin for a simple yet marvelous opening score.
Goal number two, the predecessor to Caceres's flare, came off the head of just-in substitute Alvaro Pereira, who received a straight headed lob from Cavani in Chile's box. The normally focused La Roja defense seemed rather lackadaisical on the free kick all the way from keeper Fernando Muslera, speaking of whom held a phenomenal clean sheet, halting all six of Chile's shots on target in his perfect day at net.
It was those headed chances in the box that once again negated all of Chile's dominant efforts in controlling the tempo and possession of the match, as Jorge Sampaoli's side held 73% possession on the day and struck 14 shots but was unable to get all that close at beating Muslera.
Uruguay, meanwhile, equaled Chile's on-target shots total despite their reliance on transition plays and set pieces, which they obtained from petty brush-fouls and ticky-tacky overreactions to Chile's physical style of defending.
The total fouls and yellow cards may have been even, but the difference was Uruguay's ability to use that aspect of the game as an advantage to their efforts and a driving force to beat the side that knocked them out of defending their Copa America title. Jorge Valdivia was shown the red card for Chile at the game's very end, and fellow midfielder Arturo Vidal picked up an early yellow card and then came awfully close to a red of his own throughout multiple moments of the match.
This result helps Uruguay bounce back from a tough loss against Ecuador on Thursday, raising Los Charruas from third to second at nine points through four matches. Chile pick up their first loss of qualifying and now reside in either fourth of fifth, depending on the final of the Brazil-Peru match later Tuesday. Paraguay defeated Bolivia earlier to overtake Chile on goal differential.
The teams will face their next opponents in World Cup Qualifying late March, as players return to their clubs for a nice, long stretch of league play.