Wednesday 29 March 2017, 09:30

Brazil qualify as race for places tightens

  • ***Brazil become the first side from CONMEBOL to reach Russia 2018

  • Argentina drop out of the automatic spots after 2-0 loss at Bolivia

  • Colombia up to second after 2-0 victory at Ecuador 

THE DAY REPLAYED – Five-time world champions Brazil became the first side to book their place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ through the qualifiers after securing their eighth consecutive win since Tite took over as coach.

Following a Matchday 14 that was high on excitement, the identity of the other qualifiers from the CONMEBOL Zone remains far from clear, with only six points separating second from eighth and only four rounds of matches remaining.

Peru did their chances a power of good by beating Uruguay 2-1, a result that dented Los Charrúas hopes and, coupled with Argentina’s defeat in La Paz, allowed Colombia to slip into second place after their win over Ecuador in Quito.

The Argentinians now find themselves back in the play-off berth, while the Ecuadorians are out of the top five altogether.

Matchday 14 results*28 March*

Bolivia 2-0 Argentina Ecuador 0-2 Colombia Chile 3-1 Venezuela Brazil 3-0 Paraguay Peru 2-1 Uruguay

The big match * *Peru 2-1 Uruguay* PER: Paolo Guerrero 35, Edinson Flores 62; URU: Carlos Sanchez 32

*Peru were indebted to Paolo Guerrero as they came from behind to beat Uruguay and moved to within four points of fifth place. Oscar Tabarez’s side, who finished with ten men after Jonathan Urretaviscaya was sent off, have now lost three in a row and seem destined for another agonising finale.

ElsewhereColombia scored twice in less than 15 minutes and then defended stoutly to record a crucial win over Ecuador in Quito, where they had not won on their last four visits since 2001. James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado were the men on target for Los Cafeteros.

Chile bounced back from defeat in Argentina with a fine home win over Venezuela. La Roja got the better of an end-to-end match thanks to a brace from veteran striker Esteban Paredes and a goal from Alexis Sanchez, who also had a penalty saved. Salomon Rondon scored for the visitors.

Argentina, meanwhile, were well beaten by Bolivia in La Paz. Juan Carlos Arce and Marcel Martins were both on the scoresheet for the hosts, as La Albiceleste, who were without the suspended Lionel Messi, went winless for the fourth match in a row on the road, an unwanted run comprising two draws and two defeats.

As for Brazil, they of course sealed their ticket to Russia with a comprehensive win over Paraguay. Neymar starred once again, scoring a goal to become his side’s leading marksman of the qualifiers with six, with Philippe Coutinho and Marcelo also on target.

Player of the dayAlexis Sanchez (Chile)

Alexis was on top of his game against Venezuela. As well as scoring a superb free-kick to pull level with Marcelo Salas as Chile’s leading goalscorer with 37, he also had a hand in La Roja’s other two goals. Though he failed to convert a second-half penalty, credit for that should go to Vinotinto keeper Wuilker Farinez, who got down low to his right to pull off a fine save.

Did you know?Colombia’s strikers have now gone eight matches without finding the back of the net. Seven of the nine goals they have scored since Carlos Bacca’s brace in the 3-1 defeat of Ecuador on Matchday 6 a year ago have come from their midfielders (three from James and one each from Cuadrado, Macnelly Torres, Edwin Cardona and Abel Aguilar). Defender Yerri Mina has also been on target for Los Cafeteros in that time, with their other goal being an own goal, scored by Marquinhos of Brazil.

What they said“Bolivia won fair and square and we now have to turn our thoughts to what comes next. We’re still in there and our aim is to qualify for the World Cup.” Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza

We did it our way, playing typical #Seleção football. We made it! Qualified!! 

— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) 29 March 2017