The host nation rode a wave of national euphoria in their first two matches, sweeping aside Saudi Arabia and Egypt despite being initially written off as no-hopers but could not keep the magic alive against the South Americans.
An early free-kick from Barcelona’s Luis Suarez, an own goal from Denis Cheryshev and a late strike from Edinson Cavani sealed top spot in Group A for Uruguay, with Russia through to the knockout stages as runners-up.
The Russians -- who must now regroup before their last-16 match against the winners of Group B -- were rocked by a red card for Igor Smolnikov about 10 minutes from half-time in Samara when they were already trailing 2-0. In the other match in Group A, Saudi Arabia beat Mohamed Salah’s Egypt 2-1 in Volgograd but the main talking point was Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary becoming the oldest player ever to appear in a World Cup. El Hadary, who is 45 years and 161 days old, smashed the record set by Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, who was aged 43 years and three days when he played against Japan in Brazil in 2014.
When he made his international debut in 1996, Ramadan Sobhy, who came on a substitute, was not even born. The veteran goalkeeper produced a stunning save from a Fahad al-Muwallad penalty after Salah had given Egypt the lead but could not keep out another spot kick by Salman al-Faraj in first-half injury time.
The Saudis ended a dispiriting run of 12 World Cup matches without a win, recording their first victory at a finals since 1994 with a last-gasp winner from Salem al-Dawsari but it was not enough to stop them going home.