2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

14 June - 15 July

2018 FIFA World Cup™ 

Ecuador move clear as Brazil battle back to hold Argentina

Ecuador's Fidel Martinez celebrates after scoring against Uruguay

THE DAY REPLAYED - Ecuador maintained their one hundred per cent record and ended Uruguay’s with a 2-1 home win that, coupled with Chile’s draw with Colombia, sent them clear at the top of table in the South American qualifying competition for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

In Thursday’s other game, Bolivia beat Venezuela to climb off the bottom and leave La Vinotinto trailing in last place just behind Peru, who entertain Paraguay on Friday. Meanwhile, heavy rain forced the postponement of the eagerly awaited meeting between Argentina and Brazil, which ended in a 1-1 draw with goals coming either side of half-time. In Friday's late game, Peru edged Paraguay 1-0 to maintain their distinct advantage over La *Albirroja* on home soil.

Match of the day
Chile 1-1 Colombia
Arturo Vidal 45 (Chile); James Rodriguez 68 (Colombia)

Colombia halted the reigning South American champions’ perfect start to the competition and their run of five straight qualifying wins at home by claiming a precious point in Santiago. Though *La Roja seized the initiative when Vidal pounced on the stroke of half-time, Los Cafeteros kept their composure and pulled level courtesy of James’ first international goal since October 2014.

The only side yet to drop points in the competition, Ecuador made it three wins out of three by edging out Uruguay in Quito. Full of attacking endeavour, La Tricolor *were indebted to goals from Felipe Caicedo and Fidel Martinez as they stretched their unbeaten run against *La Celeste in World Cup qualifiers to three games. Returning from the suspension he picked up in the Copa America, Edinson Cavani scored his side’s only goal.

In the day’s other game, Bolivia produced a convincing performance to score their first points of the competition with a 4-2 defeat of Venezuela in La Paz, their first win in three home games against La Vinotinto in the preliminaries. Rodrigo Ramallo was the star of the show with two goals, with Rudy Cardozo and Juan Carlos Arce also getting on the scoresheet for the hosts. The visitors’ goals came from Tomas Rincon and Richard Blanco.

On Friday, Peru earned their first victory by overcoming Peru 1-0 in Lima. A power shot by Jefferson Farfan 20 minutes in was enough for Ricardo Gareca's side to get the much needed victory. As a result, Los Incas *are still unbeaten against the *Albirroja in Lima over seven qualifiers matches (five wins and two raws). Paraguay, meanwhile, have not been able to score a single goal in their last three trips to Peru.
In Buenos Aires, the Superclasico ended in a 1-1 draw. Argentina took the lead during the first half thanks to Ezequiel Lavezzi, but Brazil tied up in the second when Lucas Lima took care of Douglas Costa's headed rebound off the crossbar. The Brazilians were able to contain Argentina despite ending the game with ten players due David Luiz's red card - the centre back earning two yellow cards in a two-minute span. This is the first time since the South American qualifying format changed to the current system where all ten teams face one another home and away that the Albiceleste has failed to win any of the first three matches. A Seleção's unbeaten streak against their rivals during the preliminary competition is now stands at four matches (two wins and two draws).

Player of the day
Rodrigo Ramallo (Bolivia)

After missing Bolivia’s opening two qualifiers through injury, the 25-year-old front man, who plays his club football for The Strongest, made up for lost time by playing a part in all four of La Verde’s goals against Venezuela. As well as scoring the first and third, Ramallo had a hand in the second by heading the ball to Damian Lizo, who was then fouled for the penalty converted by Arce, and in the fourth, which came when his shot was saved and Cardozo tucked away the rebound.

*Did you know?
On the target again against Uruguay, Felipe Caicedo is the only player to have scored on all three matchdays to date. With 11, Felipão is now tied with Edinson Mendez as Ecuador’s joint second-highest scorer in World Cup preliminaries, though he has reached that tally in 22 games to Mendez’s 44. Leading the way for La Tri in qualifiers is Agustin Delgado with 16 goals in 31 outings.

What they said
*“I never thought we’d come away from this game with nothing. This defeat gives us cause for concern and as the coach I’m honestly very worried. We simply have to win at home now,” *Venezuela coach Noel Sanvicente reacts to his side’s reverse in La Paz.

Matchday 3 results
Thursday, 12 November
Bolivia 4-2 Venezuela
Ecuador 2-1 Uruguay
Chile 1-1 Colombia

Friday, 13 November
Argentina 1-1 Brazil
Peru 1-0 Paraguay

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