THE DAY REPLAYED - Brazil, who scored a comfortable *clásico *win over Argentina, and Uruguay, narrow winners over Ecuador, seem well set to book two of South America’s four automatic qualification slots for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. The table-topping Brazilians and second-placed Uruguayans are now respectively six and five points clear of the chasing pack, formed by six sides separated by a mere four points, with Peru moving right into contention after their big win in Paraguay.
Two of the sides in that tightly packed bunch are Colombia and Chile, who played out the only draw of Matchday 11. FIFA.com rounds up all the day’s events, which included Venezuela’s first win of the campaign.
Matchday 11 results10 November
Colombia 0-0 Chile
Uruguay 2-1 Ecuador
Paraguay 1-4 Peru
Venezuela 5-0 Bolivia
Brazil 3-0 Argentina
Match of the day*Brazil 3-0 Argentina
BRA: Philippe Coutinho 24, Neymar 45, Paulinho 59
*Revitalised under Tite and guided by an inspired Neymar, Brazil gave Argentina a footballing lesson, picking up their fifth straight win in the preliminaries in the process. The scoreline could have been worse for the visitors, as the hosts exorcised some ghosts at the Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, the setting for their World Cup semi-final humiliation at the hands of Germany two years ago.
Not even the return of Lionel Messi could lift La Albiceleste, who have now gone four games without a win for the first time since the qualifiers for South Africa 2010, when they endured a five-game winless streak. “We were way below our best, and they were better than us in every department,” said Javier Mascherano. "When you’re out of form, you concede a goal and you collapse. It’s not a question of just pressing a button and making it all right again. We’ve gotten ourselves into this situation and we’ve got to get ourselves out of it."
ElsewhereUruguay were made to sweat by Ecuador but managed to record a 2-1 victory that maintained their perfect record in Montevideo, where they have now won six out of six. Sebastian Coates and Diego Rolan were the men on target for La Celeste, who had failed to beat *La Tri *in their last two home qualifiers. Ecuador, who stay fourth in the table, momentarily pulled level through Felipe Caicedo, the first goal the Uruguayans have let in at the Estadio Centenario, where they had gone 494 minutes without conceding.
Colombia and Chile played out a 0-0 draw in Barranquilla, with visiting keeper Claudio Bravo having a big hand in keeping the game scoreless, making two key first-half saves before going off injured. La Roja will be happier with the point, which leaves them in the play-off place and also took their unbeaten run in qualifiers on Colombian soil to four (three draws and a win since 2005). Not even the return of Radamel Falcao was enough for Jose Pekerman to secure his 50th victory as a national team coach.
Peru pulled off the shock of the day in beating Paraguay 4-1 in Asuncion. After falling behind to an early Cristian Riveros goal, the visitors turned the game around in the second half, courtesy of strikes from Christian Ramos, Edison Flores, Christian Cueva and Edgar Benitez. It was Peru’s first qualifying victory in the Paraguayan capital, where they had picked up a solitary point in six previous visits, and took some of the shine off the pre-match tribute paid to front-man Roque Santa Cruz, who has announced his retirement from international football.
Finally, Venezuela scored their first win of the qualifiers with an emphatic 5-0 defeat of Bolivia. Josef Martinez was the *Vinotinto *hero of the hour, scoring a hat-trick, with debutant Jacobo Koufatti and Romulo Otero also on the scoresheet, as Rafael Dudamel’s men climbed off the bottom of the table at their opponents’ expense.
Player of the dayChristian Cueva (Peru)
Calling for the ball at every opportunity and tirelessly organising the Peru midfield, the 24-year-old attacking midfielder was the central figure in their win in Paraguay, providing an assist for their second goal and scoring the third. The Sao Paulo player now has three goals to his name in the qualifiers and is one of Peru’s leading scorers in the campaign, alongside Paolo Guerrero and Jefferson Farfan.
Did you know?Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo set a new World Cup qualifying appearance record for his country when he stepped out for his 42nd qualifier on Thursday, eclipsing Nelson Tapia’s previous best. As fate would have it, the Roja captain broke the record at the very same stadium where he played his first world finals preliminary match in 2005: the Estadio Metropolitano in Barranquilla.
What they said“The qualifiers are all about getting points, and sometimes you get them like this, when you don’t play that well. We won because we capitalised on the opposition’s mistakes.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez, following his side’s win over Ecuador