WCQs: Brazil hit the front, Argentina slip up again

PictureGabriel Jesus celebrates with his mates after scoring a goal

(FIFA.com)
 
Brazil beat Venezuela to make it four wins in a row and take to the top of the table in the South American qualifying competition for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
 
A Canarinha and closest pursuers Uruguay, who picked up a valuable point in Colombia, have now opened up a gap on the five teams below them, who are separated by a mere three points.
 
The day’s other winners were Paraguay, who secured a historic win in Argentina to move within a point of the play-off place, and Chile, who scored a late win in the Clásico del Pacífico against Peru. Like Bolivia, who were held at home by Ecuador, the Peruvians passed up another opportunity to move into contention for a place at Russia 2018. FIFA.com rounds up the highlights of the tenth round of matches in South America.
 
Matchday 10 results
11 October
 
Bolivia 2-2 Ecuador
Colombia 2-2 Uruguay
Argentina 0-1 Paraguay
Chile 2-1 Peru
Brazil 2-0 Venezuela
 
Match of the day
Colombia 2-2 Uruguay
 
Colombia and Uruguay served up an exciting encounter on a rainy night in Barranquilla. The more enterprising of the two sides, the hosts lacked a cutting edge in the box, and needed a set-piece to take the lead, with the Uruguayans replying from a dead-ball situation of their own.
 
Suarez looked to have secured three points for the visitors with his solo effort, but there was still time for Mina to get forward and head an equaliser that left the Colombians in fourth. Beaten on their three previous visits, Uruguay collected their first ever point in the Caribbean city.
 
Elsewhere
 
Brazil made light of Neymar’s absence to ease to a 2-0 win over Venezuela in a match temporarily halted by a floodlight failure. The men on target for the Brazilians were Gabriel Jesus, who punished a loose clearance by Vinotinto goalkeeper Daniel Hernandez with delightful chip, and Willian. A Canarinha have now won all four of their games under new coach Tite, though the result was hardly a surprise, with Venezuela continuing their unwanted record of never having beaten Brazil in a World Cup qualifier, a 16-match run comprising 15 defeats and a draw.
 
Without an away win since the opening matchday, Paraguay set that record straight with a 1-0 victory over Argentina in Cordoba. The only goal of the game came from Derlis Gonzalez in the opening half, the first time La Albirroja have scored on Argentinian soil in nine world finals qualifiers. Justo Villar completed the hosts’ misery by saving a Sergio Aguero penalty. Without the services once more of Lionel Messi, La Albiceleste have now gone three matches without a win, but remain fifth in the table.
 
Ecuador stayed third after salvaging a useful point in Bolivia, coming from two goals down to draw 2-2. A Pablo Escobar double looked to have set the home side on the way to a comfortable win, only for Enner Valencia’s second-half brace to deny them as La Tri stretched their unbeaten run in qualifiers in La Paz to five games, a run that goes back to 2000 and includes two draws and three wins.
 
Finally, Chile ended a four-game winless run with a vital 2-1 defeat of Peru, both their goals coming from Arturo Vidal, the second five minutes from time. The Peruvians, for whom Edison Flores scored, have still to win a World Cup qualifier in Chile, a ten-game sequence consisting of seven defeats and three draws.
 
Player of the day
Arturo Vidal (Chile)
 
In what was a vital match for Chile, the 29-year-old midfielder stood tall and struck a brace as La Roja saw off old rivals Peru. In scoring his first goals of the campaign since the defeat to Paraguay in Asuncion on Matchday 7, “King Arturo” took his tally for the competition to six, putting him second in the scoring charts behind Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani.
 
Did you know?
With his goal against Colombia, Suarez moved past Chile’s Marcelo Salas and level with Argentina’s Hernan Crespo as the joint highest goalscorer of all time in the South American World Cup preliminaries with 19 goals. The Uruguayan needed 44 games to reach that figure, while Crespo took 33.
 
What they said
“I’m concerned because we’ve had two very poor performances. We were disorganised, we  played with an air of desperation and we made things easy for the opposition. Overall, we were poor. When you play badly, you play badly and there are no excuses.” Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano

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