The South American World Cup qualifiers are living up to their reputation as the toughest and tightest around the globe (bearing in mind that Brazil don’t have to qualify) as only three points separates leaders Argentina from sixth placed Venezuela following this week’s eighth series of matches.
Having ending Uruguay’s 18-match unbeaten run, Colombia have become the first side to beat Chile in this qualification campaign, coming from behind to win a thrilling game that had plenty of goalmouth action as well as a red card for each side.
Los Cafeteros have now moved up to second place in the standings with Chile drop to fifth and out of the automatic qualification places.
Leaders Argentina beat Paraguay 3-1 last Friday with Lionel Messi sealing the win from a magnificent 35 yard free-kick (see link below). Lacking the poise they have shown in previous games, La Albiceleste had to work harder than expected to draw 1-1 in Lima, the visitors being grateful to come away with a point. After saving a Pizarro penalty, Sergio Romero was powerless to prevent the Peruvians taking the lead courtesy of Carlos Zambrano’s well-worked goal. Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuaín equalized for the two time world champions with a right foot pile driver shortly before half-time.
Elsewhere, Venezuela continue to progress. The only nation from South America who have never appeared at a World Cup finals, La Vinotinto scored for the first time in Asuncion to beat bottom placed Paraguay 2-0, with both goals coming from Salomon Rondon. The result leaves the Paraguayans with much to do and seemingly cut adrift at the bottom of the table while Venezuela have moved to within one point of the automatic qualification places.
Having finished fourth at the 2010 World Cup, Copa America holders Uruguay have had a disappointing week. Having lost 4-0 to Colombia on Friday, they were held 1-1 on Tuesday by Ecuador in Montevideo. Just as they had done against Bolivia last week, the visitors took the lead through a Felipe Caicedo penalty, though Edison Cavani hit back with his second goal in 14 qualifying matches to complete the scoring in a game littered with chances. The point left both sides as they were, with El Tricolor in third and La Celeste in fourth place and the final automatic South American qualification berth.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs5vVCcDLeQ –> amazing Lionel Messi free kick versus Parraguay