THE DAY REPLAYED – Group leaders Argentina played out the only draw on Matchday 12 of the South American qualifying competition for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, taking a useful point from their testing trip to Bolivia.
Meanwhile, Ecuador put four goals past struggling Paraguay to move back into second place at the expense of Colombia, who went down 1-0 to neighbours Venezuela, a result that keeps La Vinotinto’s hopes intact.
FIFA.com rounds up Tuesday’s action.
Not even Paraguay’s early opener could unsettle high-flying Ecuador, as they eased to a commanding victory that kept them well on course for a Brazil 2014 berth and maintained their 100 per cent record in Quito. Winners of all six of their home games, the Ecuadorians have moved back up to second in the table, thanks in no small part to front man Jefferson Montero, who helped himself to a brace and laid on Cristian Benitez’s first international goal in a while. Ecuador’s equaliser came from Felipe Caicedo, who now has five goals in four appearances in the qualifying campaign. The result leaves La Albirroja rooted to the bottom of the table and seven points behind Venezuela in the play-off place.
Overcoming the absence of several first-choice players, group frontrunners Argentina earned a valuable 1-1 draw away to Bolivia in La Paz, extending their unbeaten record in the qualifiers to nine games. La Albiceleste had to do it the hard way too, coming from behind after Marcelo Martins had headed the hosts into the lead midway through the first half. The visitors restored parity through Ever Banega shortly after the break and would have taken all three points but for home keeper Sergio Galarza, who denied Lionel Messi on two occasions. This was only the second draw in nine qualifiers between the two sides in the Bolivian capital, the previous one coming on the road to Korea/Japan 2002, when they shared six goals.
Second behind the Argentinians at the start of the day, Colombia were unable to follow their example, slipping down to third after losing 1-0 to Venezuela in Puerto Ordaz. The only goal of the game came courtesy of Jose Rondon. As well as putting an end to Los Cafeteros’ four-game winning streak, his strike also consolidated the Venezuelans’ hold on the play-off place. The narrow win was a welcome one for Cesar Farias’ side, who had failed to collect maximum points in their previous two games and had not won at home in the qualifiers since November 2011.
In the day’s other match Chile renewed their hopes of taking the direct route to Brazil with a 2-0 home win over Uruguay, coach Jorge Sampaoli’s first victory in the qualifiers. Esteban Paredes and Eduardo Vargas were the men on target for La Roja, who were grateful to end a worrying sequence of four straight defeats and to climb back into fourth, ahead of Venezuela on goal difference. For their part, La Celeste have gone six games without a win and have dropped out of the top five for the first time since the qualifying campaign got under way.
Player of the day
Esteban Paredes (CHI)
Humberto Suazo’s decision to turn his back on international football and Alexis Sanchez’s suspension gave Esteban Paredes an opportunity he took with both hands. Called up at the last minute by Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli for the visit of Uruguay, Paredes, who plays his club football for Atlante in Mexico, opening the scoring in what proved to a crucial victory for La Roja. With his first world finals qualifying goal, he has now taken his international tally to ten.
7 - The number of points Jose Rondon's goals have secured for Venezuela out of their total of 15. Aside from the winner against Colombia, the Rubin Kazan striker claimed both goals in La Vinotinto’s 2-0 win in Paraguay last September and their equaliser in the 1-1 draw away to Uruguay last June. Rondon has now scored nearly half of his side’s total of nine in the qualifying competition so far.
What they said
“We created some clear-cut chances in the second half and did enough to win. We managed to pick up a point, though, and it’s given the team’s confidence a boost. I’m going away very satisfied,” Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella on his team’s 1-1 draw with Bolivia in La Paz.