FILE - In this June 20, 2018 file photo, Uruguay defender Jose Maria Gimenez celebrates at the end of the Group A match between Uruguay and Saudi Arabia at the World Cup in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

Uruguay defender Gimenez ruled out of final group match

June 24, 2018 - 11:48 am
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SAMARA, Russia (AP) — Uruguay defender Jose Maria Gimenez has been ruled out of the team's final World Cup group match because of a right thigh injury.

Gimenez scored in the team's opening match of the tournament, a 1-0 victory over Egypt. La Celeste also defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0 to secure a spot in the round of 16 as it heads into its final group match against host Russia on Monday.

The team didn't say when Gimenez might return.

The stalwart defending from the 23-year-old Atletico Madrid center back has been key to the team's two wins. Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez wouldn't reveal Sunday who would replace Gimenez.

Russia has also qualified with two wins for the round of 16, and Monday's match will be for the top spot in Group A.

Uruguay, ranked No. 14 in the world, is making its 12th overall World Cup appearance. The South American country won the tournament in 1930 as host, and again in 1950.

Uruguay veteran forward Edinson Cavani acknowledged it was blow to the team, but he's confident other players will help fill the gap left by Gimenez.

"It is an important factor. Why? Because Jose Maria Gimenez has played at an excellent level," Cavani said. "But as I've always said on prior occasions, this is a team. We are a team."

Gimenez has made 44 appearances with the national team since 2013. He signed with Atletico that same year.

He also played in the 2014 World Cup at 19, becoming the youngest Uruguay player to appear in soccer's premier tournament. Uruguay advanced from its group in Brazil, but fell 2-0 to Colombia in the round of 16.

Tabarez said it's normal to have to adjust during tournaments. He stressed that the team is prepared.

"The match plan that we always have is to continue to work — until the match begins really," Tabarez said. "The fact that he has been injured doesn't really change anything. We have the same notion of the match and the same plan for the match as before."

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