THE DAY REPLAYED – There were emphatic wins for Argentina and Colombia on Matchday 11 of the South American qualifying competition for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Separated by four points, the duo are now clear at the top of the table, with Ecuador, who were not in action on Friday, comfortably positioned in third. FIFA.com looks back on the day’s action.
Turning in another impressive performance in all departments, Colombia brushed aside Bolivia to move into second place and take another significant step towards their first appearance in the world finals since France 1998. Los Cafeteros, who have now gone 277 minutes without conceding a goal at their Barranquilla stronghold, showed their full range of attacking options as five different players got on the scoresheet.
Wing-back Juan Cuadrado impressed for the home side, as did goalscorers Torres and Armero, who also conjured up an assist each to help condemn Xavier Azkargorta’s side to their heaviest defeat of the campaign. The Bolivians now lie eighth in the table, five points adrift of the qualification places.
Argentina stayed right on course for Brazil 2014 as they eased to a 3-0 win over Venezuela in Buenos Aires. Playing his 100th game for his country at all levels, Lionel Messi made another decisive contribution, teeing up Gonzalo Higuain for the home side’s first and third goals and stroking home their second from the penalty spot. Alejandro Sabella’s men have now struck three or more goals in their last four home games and are unbeaten in eight matches, having drawn two and won six of them.
Over in Montevideo, meanwhile, Uruguay and Paraguay shared the spoils in an absorbing 1-1 draw that left neither side satisfied. La Celeste seemed to have the three points in their grasp when Luis Suarez opened the scoring late on with a stunning right-footed volley.
Just moments later, however, Edgard Benitez found himself with time and space in the Uruguay box and slotted home to condemn Oscar Tabarez’s side to a fifth consecutive game without a win. On the bright side for the hosts, results elsewhere allowed them to climb into the fourth and final direct qualification slot, while La Albirroja remain rooted to the bottom of the table on eight points.
One side making a decisive move on Friday were Peru, who kept alive their hopes of returning to the big stage for the first time since Spain 1982 by downing Chile 1-0 in El Clásico del Pacífico. Jefferson Farfan pounced three minutes from time to secure a crucial win for Sergio Markarian’s side, who have now collected eight points from their last five games and lie just one point behind current play-off occupants Venezuela. The defeat was sixth-placed Chile’s fourth in a row and leaves them just a single point clear of their resurgent northern neighbours.
Player of the day
Jefferson Farfan (PER)
Farfan was not even born the last time Peru reached the FIFA World Cup finals. The country’s hopes of bringing that lengthy absence to an end lie to a large extent on his shoulders, a point he underlined by scoring his side’s late winner against the Chileans. With four goals now to his name, La Foquita (Little Seal) is Peru’s top scorer in the qualification campaign.
7 - The number of games in which Lionel Messi has scored in the qualifying competition, all of them ending in victory for Argentina. In addition to his goal against Venezuela, the Albiceleste captain has scored twice against Chile (one each in two meetings) and Uruguay, and once against Paraguay, Ecuador and Colombia. In the three matches in which he has not found the back of the net, the group leaders have drawn two and lost the other. Lio is the joint second-highest scorer in the South American qualifiers, level with Suarez on eight goals and one behind his compatriot Higuain.
What they said
“Our heads are down because we let two points slip in a way you just don’t expect. We need to focus right now on what’s coming up. It won’t be easy, but we know very well that we have to regroup and go to Santiago and get there what we couldn’t get here,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez reacts to his side’s 1-1 draw with Paraguay in Montevideo.