There was a full round of World Cup 2014 qualification matches in South America last night, with only Paraguay not in action from the nine team group. Argentina survived the challenging altitude of Ecuador to earn a point that means they have all but sealed their qualification for the tournament in Brazil next summer and Colombia took a big step towards booking their own ticket with a home win that keeps them in second place in the group. There were also important wins for Chile and South American champions Uruguay.
Alejandro Sabella’s Argentina took the lead in only the fourth minute at the Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa in Quito, before the effects of playing at altitude had a chance to tire them out. Rodrigo Palacio was brought down in the box by Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero dispatched the resulting penalty. However, the home team were back on level terms before too long as Puebla’s Segundo Castillo headed an equaliser in the seventeenth minute. The Argentinians visibly tired as the game wore on but Ecuador were unable to force a winner despite Javier Mascherano’s late sending off. Argentina stay top of the group with twenty three points and one more win from their final three games will guarantee them a place in the finals. Ecuador are five points further back in third and are also looking on course for automatic qualification.
Colombia consolidated their second place in the group with a 2-0 win over Peru at home in the Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez in the Caribbean port of Barranquilla. Both goals came in the first half through a penalty from striker Radamel Falcao followed by a strike from Teofilo Guiterrez on the stroke of half time. Peru‘s Carlos Zambrano was sent off mid way through the second half as they failed to gain a foothold in the game. Jose Pekerman’s Colombia team now have twenty three points and should go on to seal qualification barring disaster in their last four matches but Peru have some work to do as they are now two points behind the play-off spot.
Elsewhere Chile continued their recent good run with a 3-1 win against Bolivia at home in the national stadium in Santiago. Two goals in two first half minutes from Eduardo Vargas and Alexis Sanchez set them on their way but Bolivia hit back through Marcelo Moreno Martins before half time to keep the tie alive until an injury time goal from Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal sealed it for Jorge Sampaoli’s team. Chile occupy the fourth and final automatic qualification spot and Bolivia, down in eighth, now look out of the running. Uruguay beat Venezuela 1-0 in the other group game in Cuidad Guayana with a twenty eighth minute goal from Napoli striker Edison Cavani, who has been much linked with a transfer to Chelsea this week. Venezuela, who had Tomas Rincon sent off late in the game, are now level with the Uruguayans in fifth place on sixteen points, but having played a game more and with a slightly inferior goal difference.
The table now looks as follows: