THE DAY REPLAYED – Uruguay moved right back into contention for a place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ thanks to a narrow win in Venezuela, one that took them back into fifth and the play-off spot at the expense of La Vinotinto, who drop to sixth. Top-four occupants Colombia and Chile both won to move another step closer to the world finals, which is where Argentina are almost certainly bound after their draw in Ecuador.
FIFA.com rounds up all the action from Matchday 14 in South America.
A hard-working Uruguay side produced a highly disciplined performance to grind out a narrow and much-needed win in Venezuela, secured by Cavani’s exquisite finish. In doing so, Oscar Tabarez’s men ended a six-game winless run and moved past La Vinotinto on goal difference into fifth and the coveted play-off berth. Cavani’s strike was his first in four qualifying games, ending a barren run stretching back over seven months.
Venezuela’s second home defeat of the campaign proved a costly one and saw them drop out of the top five for the first time since Matchday 9. Uruguay’s win was their first on Venezuelan soil since 1996.
Leaders Argentina failed in their first attempt to make sure of a place at Brazil 2014, though they achieved something no other side has managed in the current qualifying competition: to escape from Quito with a point. La Albiceleste’s 1-1 draw with Ecuador extended their unbeaten run to 11 matches, five of those games coming away from home. The Argentinians opened the scoring after their first real foray forward, Sergio Aguero slotting home from the penalty spot, with Segundo Castillo nodding in the equaliser from close range just minutes later. Just as he did in Argentina’s previous game, Lionel Messi came on for the final 30 minutes but had little impact.
Colombia tightened their grip on second place thanks to a convincing 2-0 win over Peru in Barranquilla, their fourth consecutive victory at home, where they have gone 367 minutes without conceding. Los Cafeteros are now a step away from their first world finals since France 1998. “We played a patient game,” said Radamel Falcao, who struck first for the home side and is now the third-highest scorer in the qualifiers. Teofilo Gutierrez added a second to seal Peru’s fifth defeat in their last six away games. Sergio Markarian’s men have dropped back to seventh, though they are just two points behind Uruguay and Venezuela and still in the hunt for the play-off spot.
Chile are also well on course for Brazil 2014 following a hard-fought 3-1 defeat of Bolivia in Santiago. La Roja’s third straight win under coach Jorge Sampaoli consolidated their position in fourth and took them five points clear of the chasing pack with just four rounds of games remaining in the group. Eduardo Vargas set Chile on the road to victory when he struck for the fourth game running, with Alexis Sanchez scoring his first of the campaign moments later and Arturo Vidal adding a third in stoppage time. The game was also notable for the return of David Pizarro after an eight-year absence from the national side. Marcelo Martins scored the visitors’ only goal, their first in 347 minutes on the road. Defeat ended the Bolivians’ slim hopes of landing one of the direct qualification slots, thought they still have an outside chance of making the play-off.
Player of the day
Segundo Castillo (ECU)
A veteran of Germany 2006, the 31-year-old Puebla midfielder has become an important contributor for La Tricolor up front. His strike against Argentina was his third in his last five outings, making him Ecuador’s third-highest scorer in the competition.
14 - A lucky number in South America: in every single qualifying competition since the current format was adopted, the countries occupying the top four positions at the end of Matchday 14 have all progressed directly to the FIFA World Cup. The leading quartet at the moment are Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Chile. Will they keep the sequence intact?
What they said
“We leave Colombia with our hopes intact because we still have a chance of making the World Cup. We knew that no matter what happened in Barranquilla, we would have two finals coming up in the next two matchdays against Uruguay and Venezuela. Let me say it again: our hopes are intact,” Peru coach Sergio Markarian looks on the bright side after his side’s defeat in Colombia.