THE DAY REPLAYED – Matchday 7 of the South American qualifying competition for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ was dominated by the four home sides, who all won to improve their respective positions in the section. Third at the start of the day, Argentina beat a Paraguay side under new management to move out front in the group, thanks also to previously unbeaten Uruguay’s defeat in Colombia and Chile’s rest day. Elsewhere, Bolivia made a losing start under their new coach, and Venezuela came unstuck in Peru.
Match of the day
Colombia 4-0 Uruguay
Goals: Radamel Falcao 2, Teofilo Gutierrez 47 and 52, Camilo Zuniga 90
The only undefeated team going into Friday’s games, Uruguay had that status taken away from them in Barranquilla. La Celeste arrived in the coastal city with designs on replacing Chile as group leaders only to suffer a heavy defeat that could have been even more emphatic and raises questions as to their future in the competition. After getting off to a fast start, Los Cafeteros proved much the better side in chalking up their first home win of the campaign and producing their best performance since Jose Pekerman’s arrival as coach. Playing in his hometown, Teo Gutierrez was one of the stars of the show with two goals, the front man finding the net again a year and a day after his last goal for his country.
“The difference between the teams wasn’t down to the heat. They played better, created chances and scored four goals” said Oscar Tabarez, who now has the job of lifting a side beaten for the first time in 18 games and 16 months.
There were no such mishaps for Argentina, who are looking down on everyone after easing to a 3-1 win over Paraguay. Alejandro Sabella’s men were in commanding form, with the Real Madrid-Barcelona connection of Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and Lionel Messi working well for them in attack. All three players were on target as the hosts earned their sixth straight win, the Barça ace capping another polished displayed by scoring his first free-kick on national duty to make it ten goals in his last six matches for his country. Jonathan Fabbro scored Paraguay’s goal from the penalty spot 17 minutes in, momentarily cancelling out Di Maria’s opener. Yet that was as good as it got for the visitors on Gerardo Pelusso’s debut as coach, and they now drop to last place.
New Bolivia boss Xabier Azkargorta also began with a defeat, this time in Quito, where Felipe Caicedo marked his first international appearance for a year by striking from the spot late on to give Ecuador a 1-0 victory. El Tricolor now stand third on 12 points, all of them garnered at home, where they have a perfect record, having scored six times in four games and conceded none.
Finally, Peru got back to winning ways after four consecutive defeats, coming from behind to see off Venezuela 2-1. Juan Arango put the visitors ahead with a superb free-kick only for Jefferson Farfan to turn the game on its head with a brace. The Peruvians, who play host to Argentina next week, move off the bottom and into seventh, while La Vinotinto, who have still to win in Lima, drop to sixth in the table.
Player of the day
Jefferson Farfan (PER)
The Peruvian striker appeared just when his country needed him, scoring twice with his right foot in the space of 12 second-half minutes to turn their match with Venezuela around. Substituted after 79 minutes, La Foquita (The Little Seal) is something of an expert when it comes to FIFA World Cup qualifiers, having now scored ten goals across three qualifying campaigns.
39 - The number of years since Argentina’s previous home win over Paraguay in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match: a 3-1 success on 7 October 1973. The next five qualifiers between the two nations on Argentinian soil were all drawn, a sequence that ended on Friday.
What they said
“We lost 4-0 to Brazil in the last qualifying competition and that proved the turning point for a recovery that took us to the World Cup. I don’t know if things will turn out the same this time, but I know the resources I’ve got and that it’s important for us to go and beat Ecuador. Colombia? They performed very well, and they’re playing better than at other times in the competition,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez.
Colombia 4-0 Uruguay
Ecuador 1-0 Bolivia
Argentina 3-1 Paraguay
Peru 2-1 Venezuela