Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Uruguay top South American World Cup Qualification

Uruguay has taken over top spot of Conmebol's World Cup qualification group last night. After a 1-0 win over Peru, the first World Champion is on track on their way to Russia 2018.

Mauricio Victorino celebrates Uruguay's success. (All photos: Conmebol)
Uruguay hosted Peru at the Estadio Centenario with a chance to go top of the qualification group and they did just that. An Edinson Cavani goal in the 53rd minute was all it took to get by Claudio Pizarro and Co. 

Despite the relatively narrow margin of victory, Uruguay deserved their home win. They were the better team overall and could have scored more frequently in the first half but Alvaro Pereira saw his biggest chance, a header from short distance, get deflected against the crossbar. On the other side, it was Paulo Guerrero who stood wide open in front of Fernando Muslera's goal, only to be denied magnificently. 

As always, Uruguay's set pieces had huge danger potential, despite the absence of Atlético Madrid's centre-back duo Godín/Giménez. Players such as Coates stepped up and did managed their defensive duties in predominantly fine fashion. 

Finally, it was El Matador Cavani who gave his team the lead. Luis Suárez produced a wonderful assist right into the run of his striking partner. The PSG striker remained as cold as ice and fired it high into the net. 

The Copa América record champions had further chances to put the game to bed early on in the second half, but could not find another quality finish, as the likes of Carlos Sánchez and Edinson Cavani struggled to hit the target. It has to be concluded that Peru still is just not good enough to qualify for a World Cup tournament. Despite their best efforts last night, they lost deservedly and stand empty-handed yet again. 

Uruguay have 13 points in 1st, Peru are 8th with 4 points.

Man of the match: Carlos Bacca.
It was Ecuador, who led the Qualifiers before matchweek 6, but they really struggled for the first time by losing away to Colombia, 3-1. 

Colombia fully deserved their success, as they dominated their visitors as they pleased. Carlos Bacca scored twice (15', 67') and gave his squad a 3-0 lead along with Sebastian Perez' strike (48'). It was added time already when substitute Michael Arroyo cut into the 3-goal lead and gave his disappointing Ecuadorians at least something to cheer about.

The loss is not a big deal position wise as Ecuador are still 2nd with 13 points. Just their points advantage shrunk a lot over the last two matches. Instead, Colombia won twice and find themselves in 5th (the playoff position) with 10 points.

Lionel Messi celebrates his goal.
Over in Argentina, the World Cup runner-up celebrated a much needed three points against Bolivia. The guests were as bad as expected away from home and did not stand the slightest chance away in Córdoba. 

The goals were scored early on by River Plate's Gabriel Mercado (20') and a penalty from Leo Messi after half an hour. Argentina finished the match with 75% possession and 19-3 shots, which tells pretty much all the story of this game. 

Argentina go 3rd with 11 points, while Bolivia are 9th with 3. 

2 for 2: Arturo Vidal and Mauricio Pinilla both scored twice.
Chile produced a great comeback away to Venezuela, beating the hosts 4-1. 

Romulo Otero gave his Venezuelans another early lead after just nine minutes. But once more, his team could not hold onto it. Mauricio Pinilla took it on himself to turn the game around for the struggling Roja. He scored twice, one before halftime (33'), once after (52'). Arturo Vidal went on to do the same later on in his return from a yellow card suspension. Bayern's midfielder scored after 72 minutes and in added time to open up a 3-goal lead towards the end. 

Chile celebrate a very important win after their loss to Argentina and now sit 4th with 10 points. Venezuela fail to win again and remain last with just a single point.

Dani Alves strikes late to give Brazil a point.
Last but not least, it was Brazil's turn. The 5-time World Champion disappointed without the suspended Neymar away in Paraguay

The first half and some more minutes fully belonged to Paraguay who surprised Brazil with decent football and found an opener through yet another goal from Dario Lezcano (40'). When Edgar Benitez made it 2-0 right after the break (49'), it started to look very grim for Dunga's team. 

Finally, maybe an hour in, the visitors began to dominate the game and continued to produce a higher amount of chance, only to be rewarded very late. Ricardo Oliveira (79') and Dani Alves (90'+2) came to the rescue of a Brazilian side that still needs a lot of improvement ahead of the summer's Copa América. 

Brazil and Paraguay both have 9 points and sit in 6th and 7th, outside of a qualification spot.


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