THE DAY REPLAYED – Ecuador and Uruguay made the headlines as the South American qualifying competition for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ got under way, earning respective historic wins away to Argentina and Bolivia.
On a day that featured no draws, there were also long-awaited victories for Chile at home to Brazil and Paraguay in Venezuela, while Colombia ensured Peru’s lengthy wait for a win on the road continued.
FIFA.com rounds up all the action from a busy opening day in the CONMEBOL preliminaries.
*Match of the day
*Chile 2-0 Brazil*
Eduardo Vargas 72, Alexis Sanchez 88
After lifting the Copa America for the first time earlier this year, Chile gave their fans another landmark achievement to celebrate by defeating Brazil - their first victory against the five-time world champions in 15 years and as many matches. Vargas, whose goals have been a feature of the Jorge Sampaoli era, set *La Roja on the road to a win that goes some way to avenging their Round-of-16 exit at the hands of A Seleção in last year’s world finals. Contemplating his side’s false start on their return to qualifying action, Brazil coach Dunga said: “We didn’t make the right decisions.”
*Ecuador sprang the surprise of the opening day, snatching their first qualifying triumph on Argentinian soil in seven attempts, courtesy of late strikes by Frickson Erazo and Felipe Caicedo. The 2-0 defeat was La *Albiceleste’s *first reverse in 40 world-finals preliminary matches in Buenos Aires, a run stretching back to the famous 5-0 defeat to Colombia in 1993. “I’m having a job finding anything positive to take away from the game,” lamented Argentina coach Gerardo Martino. “Ecuador were superior to us in every department.”
Uruguay ended a long winless run of their own in Bolivia, making light of the absence of strike duo Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani to score their first ever qualifying victory in La Paz. Having registered four draws and five defeats in nine visits to the Bolivian capital since 1961, La Celeste finally broke their duck thanks to goals from defensive mainstays Martin Caceres and Diego Godin, who made the hosts pay for their inability to take the chances they created.
Paraguay were another side to put paid to an unwanted run, as Derlis Gonzalez pounced on an Oswaldo Vizcarrondo mistake to give Paraguay a 1-0 victory in Venezuela and end a sequence of nine away games in the preliminaries without a victory. La Albirroja last experienced that winning feeling on the road in the penultimate round of games in the South Africa 2010 qualifiers, when they downed the Venezuelans 2-1. “We keep making the same mistakes we did 20 years ago. If you can’t win the game, then you at least have to make sure you don’t lose it,” said a dismayed Vinotinto coach Noel Sanvicente afterwards.
Goals from a set-piece and a counter-attack were enough to give Colombia maximum points at home to Peru, with Teofilo Gutierrez and Edwin Cardona scoring either side of half-time as Los Cafeteros’ Argentinian coach Jose Pekerman got the better of his compatriot and opposite number Ricardo Gareca. The defeat extended Los Incas’ losing streak away from home to 24 qualifying matches, 22 of which they have lost.
Player of the day
Martin Caceres (Uruguay)
The 28-year-old centre-half contributed at both ends in La Celeste’s defeat of Bolivia. As well as getting forward to score his first goal in 23 World Cup qualifiers, tucking home a loose ball after Bolivia keeper Daniel Vaca had pushed aside Abel Hernandez’s header, Caceres also turned in a solid performance at the back, helping Uruguay taste victory for the first time in La Paz.
*Did you know?
*In successfully kicking off their Russia 2018 bid in Venezuela, Paraguay have already picked up more points on the road than they managed in the whole of their Brazil 2014 campaign, when they collected just two points out of a possible 27.
What they said
A disfrutar mi Ecuador !! Esto es historia !!
— cristhian noboa (@cristhian_noboa) October 9, 2015
Enjoy it my Ecuador! This is historic!
*Matchday 1 results
*Bolivia 0-2 Uruguay
Colombia 2-0 Peru
Venezuela 0-1 Paraguay
Chile 2-0 Brazil
Argentina 0-2 Ecuador