Brazil and Ecuador share points in a crazy affair


Ecuador centre back Felix Torres scored a decisive equaliser against Brazil to boost qualification hopes for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The match at the Estadio Rodrigo Paz Delgado in Quito started ferociously with Brazil taking the lead through midfielder Casemiro before both sides were reduced to 10 men inside 20 minutes.

It looked like Brazil, who are one of 14 teams to already qualify for the World Cup later this year, would run out as narrow winners until Torres connected with Gonzalo Plata’s delivery to equalise.

Ecuador are third in the 10-nation South American qualifying standings with 24 points from 15 games, seven points ahead of Colombia and Peru, who have a game in hand.

The top four qualify automatically for the World Cup while the fifth-placed side go into a playoff with a team from the Asian confederation.

Ecuador’s match against Brazil ebbed and flowed but was enthralling throughout, especially in the opening half-hour.

Already a goal down, Ecuador’s keeper Dominguez was shown a red card on the quarter of an hour mark for a neck-high challenge that felled Cunha on the edge of the box.

But moments later the numbers were even as Brazil full-back Emerson, who was shown a yellow in the first minute for a firm challenge, got a second for a clumsy intervention.

Goalkeeper Alisson looked like he would be the third player to be sent off after 25 minutes but following a lengthy delay Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan overturned the decision.

Ecuador, on a home pitch where they had won 16 of their 23 points before Thursday, fully deserved the equaliser against a Brazilian defence that looked shaky throughout.

They thought they might snatch all three points when they were awarded a penalty in stoppage time after Alisson felled Ayrton Preciado in attempting to punch the ball clear and was again shown a red card.

But after consulting VAR the referee overturned the penalty award and red card to leave the home fans fuming as Brazil extended their unbeaten run in World Cup qualifiers to 31 games to match the South American record they set from 1954 to 1993.

Bottom side Venezuela are the only team out of the running to qualify with most teams having four games still to play.

Argentina beat Chile

Goals from Angel Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez gave Argentina a 2-1 win in Chile on Thursday in their World Cup qualifier as the visitors collected the three points without Lionel Messi.

Argentina opted to rest Messi after his COVID-19 infection, but his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Di Maria stepped up to give the visitors the lead with a trademark curling shot from outside the box after 10 minutes.

Chile’s English-born striker Ben Brereton equalised just over 10 minutes later when he sent a fine looping header over goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Argentina then took advantage of an injury to Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to seal the win 11 minutes before half-time.

Bravo was preparing to be substituted when Rodrigo de Paul fired in a fierce drive from 30 metres, and with the goalkeeper only able to parry the shot Lautaro Martinez followed up to slot home the rebound.

“We knew it was going to be difficult at high altitude and after a long flight,” said Di Maria. “The important thing is that we come away with a win.

“Everything is always much easier when Leo is here. The important thing is that we keep working like we’ve been doing and bringing joy to Argentines.”

The result, which was also achieved without the presence of talismanic coach Lionel Scaloni, who was isolating at home due to COVID-19, marks Argentina’s 28th game without defeat.

Brereton’s goal was the first against Argentina in seven qualifiers.

“Today we were without the best in the world and our coach as well but we got the victory and this is also for them,” said Di Maria.

The result was a huge blow to Chile’s hopes of qualifying for Qatar. They are seventh, on 16 points, in the 10-team South American qualifying group with only three matches to play.

The top four qualify automatically and the fifth-placed team goes into a playoff with a side from the Asian confederation.

Leaders Brazil and second-placed Argentina have already qualified and Ecuador, who are third with 24 points, are almost certain to join them.

Uruguay beat Paraguay

Luis Suarez scored a stunning second-half winner as Uruguay boosted their hopes of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

The Atletico Madrid latched onto a Diego Godin pass to fire a left-footed shot past Paraguay goalkeeper Anthony Silva in the 65th minute.

Gustavo Gomez was sent off late on for a second bookable offence.

Uruguay moved into fourth with 19 points after beating Paraguay in Asuncion, Suarez getting the winner five minutes into the second half to give new coach Diego Alonso a winning start.

The result keeps Uruguay’s qualification hopes alive and dealt a heavy blow to Paraguay, who sit second bottom of the table with 13 points.

Colombia and Peru, who meet on Friday, are on 17 points.

The top four qualify automatically for the World Cup while the fifth-placed side go into a playoff with a team from the Asian confederation.


Courtesy: Daily Mail and Reuters


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