Olympics: When a Mexican wave began rippling playfully across Old Trafford midway through the second half of this Group A encounter, it also served to herald the end of the match as a contest.
It was a pity because despite a good few empty seats and a sedate atmosphere, this encounter promised much until Uruguay substitute Nicolas Lodiero struck the decisive goal just after the hour.
The Ajax midfielder sealed a somewhat labourious victory for Oscar Tabarez's men but it could have all been so different if the UAE had taken more of their chances in an often effervescent first-half.
Skipper Ismaeil Matar had the minnows ahead in the 22nd minute but after contriving to spurn several decent chances, the UAE were made to pay as a Gaston Ramirez freekick levelled the scores at the break before Lodiero came on to win it.
Seemingly intent on damage limitation from the off, UAE coach Mahdi Redha opted to employ five defenders against Uruguay's potent-looking strikeforce of Edinson Cavani and skipper Luis Suarez.
But the Liverpool forward, whose every touch prompted a cacophony of boos, huffed and puffed against a dedicated and energetic UAE backline, which provided the platform for the underdogs to then take the match by the scruff of the neck.
They should have taken the lead when Hussain Abdulaziz linked smoothly with Ahmed Khalil down the left but when the sliding Matar connected with Khalil's low cross, he sent the ball wastefully wide.
Uruguay then survived a penalty claim in the 11th minute as the lively Eisa Rashed looked to be brought down by Sebastian Coates after evading both Emiliano Albin and Ramirez, only for referee Peter O'Leary to wave away the shouts for a spotkick.
A goal was clearly on the cards and Matar delivered in the 22nd minute, darting onto a superb through ball from Amer Abdulrahman before rounding Uruguay keeper Martin Campana to slot home.
The Cerro Largo netminder made amends moments later though as he prevented Khalil from doubling the UAE advantage with a close-range effort just before the half hour.
And as a shell-shocked Uruguay continued to struggle Campana was called into action once more, this time turning away a stinging drive from Eisa as the midfielder cut in from the left flank.
With many of the neutrals inside Old Trafford warming to the UAE's fearless, swashbuckling style, Uruguay went close through an Edinson Cavani freekick that fizzed over the bar but Matar then once again went close, nodding into the side netting in the 38th minute.
Yet as often happens in football the UAE were punished for their profligacy when Ramirez drove in a sweet freekick from the edge of the area to equalise completley against the run of play.
The Bologna playmaker went close with another freekick after the interval and as the Uruguay supporters scattered around Old Trafford raised their voices in tandem above the polite chatter echoing around the ground, the favourites began to monopolise possession.
Their control nearly paid dividends in the 55th minute as Egidio Arevalo brought the best out of UAE keeper Ali Khaseif with a stinging 20-yard drive, but Khaseif was helpless to prevent Oscar Tabarez's side from taking the lead moments later.
The winner came as Suarez linked well with Lodiero, a half-time replacement for Matias Aguirregaray, who then beat Khaseif with a low, hard shot.
The goal all but killed the tie off and though Khalil dragged a low effort narrowly wide in the 77th minute, the neutrals inside Old Trafford were left to amuse themselves as the contest blew itself out during an exceedingly dull final 20 minutes.
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