THE DAY REPLAYED – In the days leading up to the 11 November 2011, much had been said around the world about the ill omens and paranormal implications of this curious date in the calendar. Yet 11/11/11 turned out to be emphatically positive for Uruguay and in particular their striker Luis Suarez, who inspired a rout of Chile to send La Celeste clear at the top of the South American Zone standings.
Faring less well were Argentina and Colombia, who dropped points at home against Bolivia and Venezuela. FIFA.com reviews the action on a matchday which also featured Paraguay’s first win in 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifying.
The 2011 Copa America winners, playing their last Brazil 2014 qualifier of the year, signed off in fine style with another goal-laden display on home soil. Winners over Bolivia 4-2 in their opening match, followed by a 1-1 draw in Paraguay, this time out Uruguay made easy pickings of Claudio Borghi’s Chile.
A La Roja squad rocked by disciplinary problems simply had no answer to the attacking prowess of Liverpool hitman Suarez, whose four-goal salvo ensured Los Charrúas took all three points and now stand alone at the top of the table. On the back of a second heavy defeat from two games on their travels, can Borghi’s charges lift themselves in time to host Paraguay in Santiago on 15 November?
After Friday’s results, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela and Paraguay all find themselves in a four-team chasing pack level on four points – three behind leaders Uruguay after three matchdays. The Argentinians and Colombians will arguably be the most disappointed of the quartet, having passed up the opportunity to do better than 1-1 home draws against Bolivia and Venezuela respectively. The curse of 11/11/11 perhaps?
For their part, Los Cafeteros appeared to have the points in the bag in rain-soaked Barranquilla thanks to a tremendous early strike from FC Porto midfielder Fredy Guarin. However, a defensive lapse allowed La Vinotinto to level the game late in the second half via their Swiss-born midfielder Frank Feltscher, who scored just nine minutes after coming off the bench.
Argentina, meanwhile, were made to seriously sweat against Bolivia, who opened the scoring on 56 minutes when striker Marcelo Martins took full advantage of sloppy defending by Martin Demichelis. And though Alejandro Sabella’s men levelled just minutes later after substitute Ezequiel Lavezzi struck with virtually his first touch, La Albiceleste were booed off at the end after visitors La Verde held on for their first ever FIFA World Cup qualifying point on Argentinian soil.
Lastly, Francisco Arce will be delighted to have registered his first competitive victory as Paraguay coach, after two of La Albirroja’s South Africa 2010 veterans, Cristian Riveros and Dario Veron, scored in a 2-1 win over Ecuador. El Tri, who were unable to cope with their hosts’ set-piece threat, thus fell to their seventh defeat in seven FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Asuncion and their first reverse in Brazil 2014 qualifying.
Player of the day
Luis Suarez (URU)
In the absence of Diego Forlan, Suarez shouldered the full weight of Uruguay’s attacking burden in lethal fashion. La Celeste’s No9 drove his team on from the front, scored each of their four goals and even found time to fire a free-kick against the crossbar. A comprehensive night’s work for the Salto-born striker, who now has an impressive 26 goals in 52 appearances for his country’s senior side.
11 – The number of competitive games that Paraguay had gone without winning in open play. The run, which featured nine draws and two losses, stretched back to La Albirroja’s 2-0 group victory over Slovakia at South Africa 2010 and spanned that tournament, the 2011 Copa America and Brazil 2014 qualifying.
What they said
“I’m angry. We knew we couldn’t afford to drop any points at home and now we’ve no choice but to win [away to Colombia on 15 November]. We’d have liked to have played in front of a full stadium tonight, but we know it’s down to us to fire the public’s enthusiasm,” said a downcast Lionel Messi, following the 1-1 home draw with Bolivia.