Lionel Messi was among the scorers as Argentina beat rivals Uruguay 3–0, after Brazil’s successive victories in South American World Cup qualifying ended 0–0 with Colombia at Barranquilla.
Brazil leads the qualifying competition with 28 points from nine wins and a draw, six points away from second-placed Argentina. The match between Brazil and Argentina was controversially postponed after seven minutes of play because COVID-19 Protocol FIFA has yet to decide what to do with the game.
Brazil’s figures so far would have been enough to qualify for all World Cup straight matches since 2002.
Ecuador remains in third place with 16 points, slightly ahead of Uruguay on the number of wins.
Colombia is in fifth place with 15 points. All three have played 11 matches so far.
Chile were playing Paraguay later on Sunday.
The top four teams will get direct entry into next year’s World Cup in Qatar. The fifth-place team can still qualify through the intercontinental playoffs.
All teams in the South American World Cup qualifiers will play again on Thursday.
Argentina 3, Uruguay 0
Messi’s team was preparing for a long, tense night at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires. Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez selected a back-five to stop Argentina’s powerful attack and his team created the best opening opportunities, with Luis Suárez hitting the post once and goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez to make two great saves. forced to
But then a stroke of luck helped Argentina in the 38th minute. Messi delivers an overhead pass attempting to assist Nico Gonzalez, who fails to touch it. But the ball slowly and unexpectedly went into goalkeeper Fernando Muslera’s right corner.
Luck was once again on Argentina’s side in the 44th. A series of passing mistakes by both teams gave Lautaro Martínez a clear opportunity at the edge of the box. Lautaro failed to hit it cleanly, but it was enough to move the ball in the path of Rodrigo de Paul.
The second half began with Uruguay trying to advance with substitutes for Edinson Cavani and Darwin Nuez, but once again the Argentine scored. Messi found de Paul on the right bank, and the midfielder sent a low cross into the penalty box. Lautaro Martínez scored from close range.
Argentina’s next challenge will be from Peru. Uruguay will travel to Brazil.
Colombia 0, Brazil 0
It was Brazil’s first draw after nine victories in completed matches in the tournament, with their Superclassico suspended last month.
Brazil had the best chance of the match and forced Colombia’s goalkeeper David Ospina to make three crucial saves. The most important was a close range finish by substitute Antony in the 84th minute.
Neymar returned to Selçao after the suspension, but was off pace, missed several passes and was running with apparent difficulty. He left the pitch soon after the final whistle. Brazil coach Tite said in a press conference that too much is expected of his star player at all times.
“He is an exceptional player because he plays exceptionally, he does exceptionally and not usually,” the Brazilian coach said.
“He’s a special player, we know it. And he was also well marked, sometimes by two players.”
Tight tested lineup or formation changes as they promised. His defensive midfield was Fabinho and Fred for the first time. He also used wingers Rafinha and Antony in the second half, following his impressive performance in a 3–1 win in Venezuela.
Colombia coach Reynaldo Rueda said his team did well despite the absence of suspended Juan Guillermo Cuadrado. After draws against Uruguay and Brazil, Colombia could see sixth-placed Paraguay closer in the table.
“This match gives us optimism about what is to come,” Rueda said.
“Brazil is a very tough team, they won all their matches in the qualifiers. So from that point of view what Colombia did today was very positive.”
Colombia’s next match will also be against Ecuador at home.
Also on Sunday, third-placed Ecuador lost 2-1 to Venezuela and disappointed fans who were hoping to get closer to the World Cup.
Ener Valencia opened the scoring for the visitors from 37th position, but Venezuela changed their fortunes in the first half with goals from Darwin Matches late in the first half and Eduard Bello in the 64th.
Ecuador has 16 points and Venezuela has seven points.
Bolivia disappointed Peru after beating Peru 1-0 in La Paz. Ramiro Waka scored the only goal of the match in the 85th minute. Peru remained on 11 points and Bolivia moved up to nine points in the standings.