Uruguay, meanwhile, go into the knockout stages aiming to win their third World Cup, and first since 1950, in Russian Federation.
The Paris St Germain forward curled in a first-time right-foot shot from Rodrigo Bentancur's pass to beat Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio before going off injured in the 74th minute as the Uruguay defense dug in to hold on to their lead. Being level lasted only seven minutes. Uruguay have been compared to Atletico Madrid throughout the tournament and with a stubborn defence led by the brilliant Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, the similarities are obvious.
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Pepe's headed equaliser on 55 minutes had given Portugal hope, but Cavani, who has earned a reputation for failing to deliver in the most important games for club and country, silenced his critics with a memorable showcase of centre-forward play.
Uruguay have the deadly attacking duo of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, who have three goals between them.
Portugal's Ronaldo has scored 85 goals in 153 appearances and looks in inspiring form, the last group game where he missed a penalty and was involved in a VAR-influenced decision getting away with a yellow card after pulling down an Iran defender. KEYS TO THE GAME Stopping Ronaldo. He has reached the knockout stages on each previous occasion: Euro 2012 quarter-finals & World Cup 2014 round of 16 with Greece; Euro 2016 winners and at least World Cup 2018 round of 16 with Portugal. The two-time champions secured progression as the only side - and first in 20 years - not to concede a single goal during the group stages of the competition.
They're fortunate to have advanced and need to find a way to capitalize on scoring opportunities to get by a tough Uruguay team. He required assistance to make it off the field, provided by Ronaldo, who aided his opponent all the way to the touchline.