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Uruguay's Luis Suarez sends a volley past Mexico goalkeeper Oscar Perez in the first half on Tuesday. ((Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press))

Uruguay defeated Mexico 1-0 on Tuesday, going through Group A unscored upon to qualify for the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Luis Suarez headed in an Edinson Cavani cross in the 43rd minute at Royal Bakofeng Stadium in Rustenburg for the goal. The strike came about 20 minutes after Andres Guardado hammered a volley off the crossbar for the Mexicans.

Uruguay (2-0-1) will take on South Korea in the round of 16 on Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 9:30 a.m. ET).

Mexico (1-1-1) qualified second in the group and meet Argentina on Sunday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 2 p.m. ET).

"The important thing is that we qualified in first place," Uruguay striker Diego Forlan said. "They controlled the ball well and in truth it was quite hard for us."

Uruguay, which didn't concede a goal in the first round to reach the knockout stage for the first time since 1990.

"It leaves a bitter taste," Mexico midfielder Rafael Marquez said. "We're all unhappy with this result and with today's performance. We'll have to improve now."

Mexico coach Javier Aguirre preserved an attacking lineup that helped his team beat France 2-0 in its last game. Veteran striker Cuauhtemoc Blanco, at 37 the oldest non-goalkeeper at the tournament, replaced the injured Carlos Vela as Mexico retained its 4-3-3 formation.

Tabarez made just one change to the lineup that beat South Africa 3-0, bringing in defender Mauricio Vitorino for Diego Godin.

The Uruguay coach said he had been "bothered" by talk before the game that the two teams might play for a draw.

"It's an insult to the coaches and players. Both teams came out looking for something," Tabarez said.

But the match was mostly subdued. Forlan, who scored twice and set up another goal against the host nation, never sparkled, and the Mexicans fell far short of the quality they showed against France.

Suarez, a constant menace for the Mexican back line, first threatened in the sixth minute when he pounced on a long downfield pass which two Mexican defenders failed to stop and shot across the face of the goal.

Mexico's best chance came in the 22nd when Andres Guardado, who replaced suspended midfielder Efrain Juarez, fired a left-foot shot from 30 yards which bounced back off the underside of the crossbar.

Mexico went behind despite dominating possession, moving the ball easily around the pitch but failing to find holes in the Uruguay back line.

Mexico increased the pressure after the interval, and Blanco tested Fernando Muslera with a curling free kick the goalkeeper did well to hold.

But Diego Lugano almost extended Uruguay's lead with a close-range header that Oscar Perez couldn't hold and the Mexican defence bundled the ball out for a corner.

Francisco Rodriguez had Mexico's best chance to equalize in the 64th when he dived to meet a cross from substitute Pablo Barrera but his header glanced wide.

Substitute Javier Hernandez, who scored when he came on against France, almost connected in the 76th with the outside of his boot but opportunities were scarce for the Mexicans.

An unexpected late chance fell to Guillermo Franco after two Uruguayan defenders failed to stop a ball into the penalty area but the striker wasn't quick enough to take advantage.

South American teams have won nine of their 11 matches thus far.

Uruguay was the final team into the 32-nation field, winning a playoff with Costa Rica after finishing fifth in continental qualifying.

With files from CBCSports.ca