By FRANCO PANIZO
To no one’s surprise, Luis Suarez was back at the center of some controversy on Tuesday.
Suarez helped Uruguay defeat Argentina, 3-2, in their final 2014 World Cup qualifier at Estadio Centenario in Montevideo on Tuesday night, but he did so by diving to draw a penalty kick that he converted in the first half. Suarez’s goal was Uruguay’s second in the match against the already-qualified Argentines, and it gave the controversial striker the edge in the race for CONMEBOL’s top goalscorer in this qualifying cycle over Leo Messi.
That result meant little for Uruguay as far as the CONMEBOL standings go, however, as they will still face Jordan in a two-legged playoff next month since Chile edged Ecuador. The Chileans won, 2-1, at home in Estadio Nacional in Santiago to secure a third-place finish thanks to a pair of goals that came four minutes apart. Alexis Sanchez netted the opener in the 35th minute and Gary Medel scored three minutes later against a fourth-placed Ecuador side that pulled one back in the second half through Felipe Caicedo.
Colombia also tasted a 2-1 victory to close out their successful campaign, going on the road to defeat lowly Paraguay at Estadio Defensores del Chaco in Asuncion. Veteran centerback Mario Yepes accounted for the second-placed Colombians’ two goals and his brace negated a bright start for the Paraguayans, who jumped out in front in the seventh minute after Jorge Luis Rojas found the back of the net.
Peru and Bolivia ended their failed World Cup bids with a 1-1 draw at Estadio Nacional in Lima. The Peruvians were unable to give their fans in attendance a treat, as they conceded a first-half stoppage time goal to Diego Bejarano that negated Yoshimar Yotun’s goal in the 19th minute.
Here are the complete final standings and top goal-scorers from this qualifying cycle in CONMEBOL:
1. Argentina: 9-2-5, 32 points, +20 goal differential
2. Colombia: 9-4-3, 30 points. +14 goal differential
3. Chile: 9-6-1, 28 points, +4 goal differential
4. Ecuador: 7-5-4, 25 points, +4 goal differential
5. Uruguay: 7-5-4, 25 points, 0 goal differential
6. Venezuela: 5-6-5, 20 points, -6 goal differential
7. Peru: 4-9-3, 15 points, -9 goal differential
8. Bolivia: 2-8-6, 12 points, -13 goal diffential
9. Paraguay: 3-10-3, 12 points, -14 goal differential
1. Luis Suarez (Uruguay) – 11 goals
2. Leo Messi (Argentina) – 10 goals
3. Radamel Falcao (Colombia) – 9 goals
3. Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina) – 9 goals
5. Felipe Caicedo (Ecuador) – 7 goals
What do you think of the final round of CONMEBOL qualifiers? Did you enjoy this cycle’s South American action? Who was the best player in your opinion?
Share your thoughts below.