Jose Gimenez proved Uruguay’s saviour with a 90th-minute winner against Egypt in Ekaterinburg.
The South Americans were largely disappointing but late pressure eventually told as defender Gimenez headed in a free-kick to seal a 1-0 win which moves them level on three points with hosts Russia at the top of Group A.
Egypt talisman Mohamed Salah was deemed fit enough to be named in the matchday squad following the shoulder injury he suffered in the Champions League final with Liverpool but watched the whole match from the bench in Ekaterinburg as his country suffered heartbreak in their first World Cup outing for 28 years.
The first half offered little to enthuse the fans in the stadium, which was far from full, as Uruguay struggled to break down their opponents and created just one real chance.
That came in the 24th minute after Edinson Cavani won a corner with a volley that was smartly headed over by Ali Gabr. The ball found its way to Luis Suarez at the back post but he screwed his shot tamely into the side netting.
The Barcelona player was making his first World Cup appearance since leaving Brazil in disgrace following his bite on Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini but endured a frustrating afternoon.
Suarez did better with his next chance just after half-time. He was expertly found on the right of the area by Cavani and created space for a shot, which was well saved by Mohamed El Shenawy.
Egypt were forced into a change five minutes into the second half when Tarek Hamed hobbled off and was replaced by Wigan captain Sam Morsy.
Egypt managed their first effort on target in the 72nd minute, referee Bjorn Kuipers playing advantage and Ahmed Fathi unleashing a shot from wide on the right that was well held by Fernando Muslera.
Uruguay swept down the other end and Suarez was presented with another golden chance but this time wanted too many touches and El Shenawy pounced at his feet.
The Al Ahly keeper was fast emerging as the man of the match and he produced his best save to date to keep out a fine Cavani volley.
The Paris St Germain forward showed his class again with a curling free-kick against the post as Uruguay finally ramped up the pressure but his team-mates got in each other’s way as they failed to put in the rebound.
However, Egypt could not clear their lines and a foul on Gimenez wide on the right provided the opportunity for Carlos Sanchez to swing over a free-kick that was powered into the bottom corner by the Atletico Madrid man.