- Respective wins over Paraguay and Ecuador take them to second and fourth
- Argentina remain in the play-off place after drawing with Venezuela
- Chile drop out of the qualifying places altogether after losing in Bolivia
THE DAY REPLAYED. Uruguay and Peru were the big winners on Matchday 16 of the South American qualifying competition for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, thanks to respective historic victories in Paraguay and Ecuador.
In terms of the table, the Uruguayans are on the brink of qualification after nudging into second place at the expense of Colombia, while the Peruvians lie fourth, having climbed into direct qualification places for the first time.
Paraguay and Ecuador were not the only sides to lose ground. Argentina could only draw at home with Venezuela, while Chile lost in Bolivia, results that leave La Albiceleste in the play-off place and La *Roja *out of the top five altogether.
FIFA.com rounds up the action from a day on which none of the sides still in contention qualified or were eliminated.
Matchday 16 results5 September
Match of the dayEcuador 1-2 Peru *
ECU: Enner Valencia 79; PER: Edison Flores 73, Paolo Hurtado 76
*Ecuador and Peru served up a thriller in Quito, with the visitors securing their first ever win in the Ecuadorian capital. A two-goal salvo in three minutes gave them the points, which they held on to despite having Christian Ramos sent off late on. “We deserved to win and we’re very happy about it,” said Peru coach Ricardo Gareca. “We’re on a high because we’re performing well and getting results.” Ecuador have now lost four in a row but remain in with a chance of qualifying.
ElsewhereUruguay had to dig deep to beat Paraguay for the first time in Asuncion, with a strike from teenage midfielder Federico Valverde and a Gustavo Gomez own goal giving them a first away win since the opening matchday of the qualifiers, back in October 2015. Despite taking a backward step, La Albirroja are still in contention.
Colombia were ultimately grateful for the home point they picked up against Brazil. Radamel Falcao cancelled out Willian’s opener to end the visitors’ nine-match winning streak. Though the point was not enough to keep Los Cafeteros in the second place they had held for the two previous matchdays, they remain in the top four.
Argentina had no cause to celebrate their draw with Venezuela in Buenos Aires, however, as they missed out on a golden opportunity to move into a direct qualification places and put pressure on their rivals. Jhon Murillo gave the visitors the lead only for Rolf Feltscher to put through his own goal only minutes later. Lacking in ideas, La *Albiceleste *were booed off by their fans.
Chile suffered even greater disappointment in losing to the already eliminated Bolivia in La Paz. Juan Carlos Arce scored the only goal of the game from the spot to give the hosts their first qualifying win over La *Roja *since 2000 and their third home victory without conceding a goal, a first in their history. For the first time in the campaign, the Chileans ended a double-header pointless.
Player of the dayFederico Valverde (Uruguay)
A star of the last FIFA U-20 World Cup, the 19-year-old attacking midfielder fulfilled every footballer’s dream by scoring on his full international debut, a goal that edged Uruguay closer to Russia 2018. Aside from giving La Celeste the lead in Asuncion, Valverde turned in a performance that belied his years and was his side’s most outstanding performer on the night.
Did you know?Falcao’s first goal in the qualifying campaign was also the first by a Colombian forward in nine matches, since Carlos Bacca’s brace against Ecuador on 29 March 2016.
The stat 13 -the number of points Peru have won out of the last 18 available, the second-best tally behind the 16 amassed by Brazil, the only side from the CONMEBOL Zone that has qualified as yet.
What they said“We didn’t think we’d be coming away from this double-header without a point, but we’re still fighting with the objective of qualifying. I’m not going to speculate about how many points we need.” Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi