The outcome of the South American qualifying marathons for Qatar 2022 is imminent. Ecuador and Uruguay have put an end to their anxieties by securing their direct qualification for the World Cup this Thursday, thus joining the two giants in the area, Brazil and Argentina, who remain undefeated with a devastating pace. It only remains to define the selection that occupies the fifth position that gives the option of the playoff. In that nervous pulse, Peru lost ground by falling controversially 1-0 in Montevideo against the Charrúas, although it reaches the last date in that long-awaited place without depending on other results. Colombia, on the prowl after finally rediscovering the elusive goal path against Bolivia, clings to the possibility of achieving the playoff at the last breath, while Chile will remain expectant before a possible stumble between coffee growers and Incas.
Rochet, Giménez, Mathías Olivera, Godín, Ronald Araújo, Rodrigo Bentancur, Pellistri (Damián Suárez, min. 83), Federico Valverde, De Arrascaeta (Maxi Gómez, min. 83), Darwin Núñez (Cavani, min. 66) and Luis Suarez (Lucas Torreira, min. 75)
Pedro Gallese, Miguel Trauco, Callens, Zambrano, Advíncula, Sergio Peña (Edison Flores, min. 45), André Carrillo (Santiago Ormeño, min. 64), Christian Cueva (Horacio Calcaterra, min. 76), Renato Tapia, Yoshimar Yotún (Christofer Gonzalez, min. 60) and Gianluca Lapadula (Alex Valera, min. 76)
goals 1-0 min. 41: From Arrascaeta.
Yellow cards Pellistri (min. 71) and Luis Suárez (min. 75)
Uruguay, which has revived under the command of Diego Alonso after the departure of Oscar Washington Tabárez, celebrated its direct ticket thanks to Giorgian de Arrascaeta’s goal that knocked down Ricardo Gareca’s poised Peru. The Incas, despite the protests, did not validate a ball that clearly crossed the goal line. Despite the defeat, they are still in the race to repeat the playoff path they traveled to reach Russia 2018. That result also qualified Ecuador, which has defended tooth and nail its third place in the table, despite falling 3 -1 in his visit to Paraguay. Brazil continued like a steamroller and thrashed Chile 4-0 with goals from Neymar, Vinicius, Coutinho and Richarlison.
With only one game to go in the disputed Conmebol ‘league of national teams’, Colombia retains the possibility of surpassing Peru after a crucial 3-0 victory in Barranquilla with goals from Lucho Díaz, Miguel Ángel Borja and Matheus Uribe. The coffee growers have been the greatest beneficiaries of a day in which they arrived dying. Finally, the dribbles of the brand new Liverpool winger, who little by little becomes a world-class footballer, managed to open the paths to the goal for Colombia, with the help of a very active James Rodríguez. A pass from Cuadrado, with a change of pace and a devastating cross shot, Lucho ended in the first half with an unusual streak of seven games without celebrations. In the second half he put in the cross for Borja’s headed goal, and left afterwards to applause. Uribe sealed the win in the last minutes.
In a group of ten teams, which grants four direct places and a playoff ticket, Brazil leads with 42 points, followed by Argentina (35), which this Friday hosts Venezuela in the last match of the date. Ecuador and Uruguay close the qualifying zone with the same 25 points, and Peru is fifth with 21. Colombia reached 20 points and overtook Chile, which stagnated at 19 and now languishes in seventh place.
In the last of the 18 dates, Colombia will play its remains with a veneer of nostalgia in its visit to the Venezuela of José Pékerman, the endearing coach who took the coffee growers to the last two World Cups. Their chances of reaching the playoffs depend on adding three points on Tuesday and Peru not defeating Paraguay in Lima. Chile, with a remote chance of reaching fifth place, will receive an already qualified Uruguay. With their tickets secured, Ecuador is local against the undefeated Argentina, while Tite’s overwhelming Brazil –which has barely conceded three draws in the entire qualifying round– visits Bolivia at the height of La Paz, with the expectation of breaking the record of 43 points in a qualifying round, imposed by Marcelo Bielsa’s albiceleste on the way to Japan and Korea 2002.
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