Gaston Pereiro was the match-winner as Uruguay began their New Zealand 2015 campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Serbia to move joint-top of Group D. The outcome was harsh on the Europeans, who dominated much of this full-blooded encounter at Dunedin's Otago Stadium.

Most had expected Uruguay - finalists in 2013 - to boss this encounter and they did have the first of the game's clear-cut chances. With 17 minutes played, Facundo Castro looped over a right-footed cross that Pereiro rose to meet powerfully, forcing a smart save from keeper Predrag Rajkovic.

Serbia emerged as the assured side, though, and twice went close before the interval. First, Ivan Saponjic ran clean through only for a heavy touch to allow Gaston Guruceaga to save at his feet, and then Andrija Zivkovic cut in from the right to test the reflexes of Gaston Guruceaga.

Yet, having offered very little, it was Uruguay who took the lead 11 minutes into the second half. Castro was the goal's architect with a lovely, lofted outside-of-the-foot pass and star man Pereiro finished it off, prodding left-footed beyond the advancing Rajkovic.

Serbia piled on the pressure thereafter and came close on several occasions, most notably when Sergey Milinkovic smashed inches wide from a half-cleared corner. But the South Americans held out for a win that leaves them just one behind Mali on goal difference, and sees Serbia propping up the section with Mexico.