After an hour of scoreless soccer between Argentina and Uruguay on Friday, Lionel Messi took matters into his own hands and led his country to victory.
Messi opened the scoring in the 65th minute, playing a pass to Angel Di Maria, who beat his defender and put a cross back in to Messi for the goal. Ten minutes later, a similar play saw Messi find Di Maria again, but this time the Real Madrid winger’s cross found Sergio Aguero, who poked in a second goal to double Argentina’s lead.
With eleven minutes remaining, Messi sealed the win with a well-placed free kick, and Argentina preserved the shutout to beat Uruguay 3-0. The victory moved the Albiceleste to first in the qualifying table with 17 points.
Here is a full rundown of all of Friday’s South American World Cup Qualifying action:
COLOMBIA 2, PARAGUAY 0
After just missing out on advancing to the playoff stage of the 2010 World Cup qualifying process, Colombia is much improved this time around and a 2-0 win over Paraguay preserved the team’s strong position for 2014.
Radamel Falcao netted a brace for Colombia, scoring both goals in the second half to continue the strong form he has been exhibiting this season. The win put Colombia in a tie for second in the CONMEBOL qualifying standings with 16 points. Paraguay, meanwhile, have struggled mightily this cycle and sit in last place with a mere four points.
ECUADOR 3, CHILE 1
The team that is tied in second with Colombia is Ecuador, and a win on Friday helped them stay in that strong position. They topped Chile, 3-1, in a sloppy match that saw the Chileans end the match with nine men.
Felipe Caicedo scored a brace for Ecuador, turning around a score that originally had Chile up 1-0 on an Ecuadorian own goal. The Chileans lost their way, though, losing two players to red cards. Ecuador scored a 90th minute insurance goal through Segundo Castillo to seal the 3-1 win.
BOLIVIA 1, PERU 1
In the final match of World Cup Qualifying in South America, Bolivia and Peru played to a 1-1 draw. Peru’s Juan Carlos Marino opened the scoring in the 21st minute, only for Bolivia’s Alejandro Saul Chumacero to equalize in the 51st minute.
Both teams pressed for a winner in the second half, but neither was able to find one. With the point, Peru remained in seventh place with eight points, while Bolivia stayed in eighth place with five points.
What do you think of these results? Can anyone in South America stop Argentina? Who else do you see qualifying from CONMEBOL?
Share your thoughts below.