MADRID – There was relief for Edinson Cavani the moment his penalty kick struck the net.
“What crossed my mind is that it finally went in,” he said after scoring his first goal since signing for Valencia.
The Uruguay striker came to Spain looking for playing time ahead of potentially his last World Cup but had been growing anxious about his lack of scoring, having failed in his first three games with the club.
That all ended against Elche in the Spanish league on Saturday, when he also scored with a header in first-half stoppage time in a 2-2 draw.
“For us strikers, scoring is something very important,” the 35-year-old Cavani said. “We do things to help the team, we work for the team, but scoring goals is something that is good for us.”
And Cavani stayed hot on Tuesday, scoring again in Valencia's 1-1 draw against Sevilla in the Spanish league.
There was a scare for both Valencia and Uruguay when Cavani didn’t return for the second half against Elche because of an ankle injury, but he said after the game it wasn’t anything serious.
“The ankle was swollen but it should be just a matter of days,” he said. “It hurts a bit, but it was a precaution.”
Cavani will be looking to make it to his fourth World Cup with Uruguay, with whom he is expected to spearhead the attack alongside Luis Suárez and Darwin Núñez in a group containing South Korea, Ghana and Portugal.
Along with Suárez, he helped the South American nation finish fourth in 2010 in South Africa. Four years later in Brazil, Uruguay was eliminated by Colombia in the round of 16.
It was a disappointing ending for Uruguay and Cavani in 2018 in Russia, when he couldn’t contribute in a loss to eventual champion France in the quarterfinals because of a muscle injury that kept him from playing.
Holding crutches and not putting weight on his left leg, Tottenham forward Richarlison broke down in tears as he spoke about a calf injury that he feared might rule him out of playing in the World Cup for Brazil.
“It’s kind of hard to say because it’s close to the realization of my dream," he said Saturday after Tottenham's 2-0 win over Everton, during which he pulled up with a calf strain and walked off the field.
However, he has allayed any fears by saying on social media he will be back in two weeks.
“Guys, thank God it was just a big scare!!" he wrote in Portuguese.
Richarlison has emerged over the past year as a strong option for one of the forward spots in Brazil's team, moving ahead of Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino as the starting No. 9 for now.
INJURIES FOR PORTUGAL
The supply line for Cristiano Ronaldo at the World Cup is thinning.
Last week, Pedro Neto was ruled out of the tournament after sustaining an ankle injury on club duty for Wolverhampton that requires surgery.
Another left winger, Diogo Jota, also is out. The Liverpool forward, who missed the first month of the season because of injury, was carried off on a stretcher late in the 1-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday because of a thigh problem.
Jota will be out for “months” and will miss the World Cup, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said on Tuesday. Jota later wrote on Twitter than “one of my dreams collapsed.”
RACE FOR JIMENEZ
Mexico striker Raul Jimenez is also in danger of missing the World Cup.
A groin injury has kept the 31-year-old Jimenez out of action for Wolverhampton in the Premier League since Aug. 31. And the team's interim coach, Steve Davis, cannot guarantee his striker will return before the tournament in Qatar.
“That’s the hope, but I’m not too sure,” Davis said. “It’s very difficult when you put a date on an injury. If it’s early, it’s a great surprise, but if it goes beyond that then people start wondering about the treatment and things like that. Rather than let people question it, it’s important we make sure he’s right, that his mental health is good and he’s in a good place."
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