Losing to Brazil is tough under any circumstances when you are Argentina, but doing so by a lopsided margin when you are fighting for your World Cup life is about as bad as it gets.
Brazil pummeled a lackluster Argentina to the tune of 3-0 on Thursday in the latest chapter of their South American rivalry, leaving La Albiceleste further wounded in its World Cup Qualifying campaign. The loss in the 11th round of CONMEBOL qualifiers did not move Argentina in the standings, but kept Lionel Messi and Co. in sixth place and on the outside looking in for a berth for Russia 2018.
While Brazil handed Argentina a humbling defeat, Peru mounted a historic comeback in Paraguay. Peru bounced back from a goal down at halftime to beat Paraguay, 4-1, on the road for the first time in a World Cup Qualifier.
The day’s biggest rout, however, came via Venezuela, which further embarrassed Bolivia with a 5-0 win that gave Rafael Dudamel’s side its first three points in this qualifying campaign. Elsewhere, Uruguay edged Ecuador, 2-1, and Chile and Colombia split the points in a scoreless draw.
Here is a look back at Matchday 11 in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying and the updated standings:
BRAZIL OVERWHELMS STRUGGLING ARGENTINA
For Brazil, it was a festive night. For Argentina, the nightmare continued.
Brazil cruised past a sluggish Argentina, 3-0, in their much-anticipated meeting at Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte. O Canarinho took the lead in front of its home crowd through a splendid strike from Philippe Coutinho in the 24th minute before Neymar put Argentina in a bigger hole with a goal at the stroke of halftime.
La Albiceleste never really mustered up much of a response against its rival, as superstar Lionel Messi turned in a subpar performance along with most of the rest of his squad. Argentina wound up conceding again to Paulinho just before the hour-mark, and that killed off whatever idea there was of a comeback.
FOUR-GOAL SECOND HALF SEES PERU PUNISH PARAGUAY
Peru began the day having never won a World Cup Qualifier in Paraguay, but ended it with a confidence-boosting historic first victory there.
A four-goal, second-half comeback and strong outing from the in-form Christian Cueva saw Peru overpower Paraguay in a 4-1 affair at Estadio Defensores del Chaco in Asuncion. It looked to be the same old story for La Blanquirroja when Cristian Riveros finished impressively nine minutes in, but Peru kept dictating play and found a 48th-minute equalizer though Christian Ramos that sparked the rally.
Cueva took over from there, first assisting on Edison Flores’ winner in the 71st minute before scoring a composed insurance tally seven minutes later. An own goal from Edgar Benitez in the 84th minute gave Peru another reason to celebrate, and capped the rough day at the office for Los Guaranies.
URUGUAY STAYS PERFECT AT HOME WITH NARROW WIN VS. ECUADOR
Uruguay suffered a scare, but its impressive and spotless home record remains intact.
Ecuador threatened to hand Uruguay a first loss at Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, but Los Charruas prevailed via a 2-1 victory. Sebastian Coates found the opener off a set piece in the 12th minute, but it was canceled out by a strong low strike from Felipe Caicedo a minute before halftime.
La Tricolor‘s excitement was shortlived. Uruguay reclaimed the lead a minute after Caicedo pulled Ecuador level with a close-range finish from Diego Rolan, and the defense did the rest to improve the second-placed side to 6-0-0 at home in this qualifying campaign.
CHILE, COLOMBIA FINISH IN SCORELESS STALEMATE
The chances were there. The goals were not.
Colombia and Chile were forced to settle for a scoreless draw in their intriguing showdown that marked the first game of the day. The two nations finished with a combined 17 shots in the match at Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez in Barranquilla, but neither was able to find that last bit of quality in the final third.
Los Cafeteros enjoyed more of the possession with 61 percent of it and had a number of good looks, but Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo made some highlight-reel saves to keep his team from conceding on the road. La Roja lost Bravo to a hip injury, however, and had to replace him in the 64th minute with Jhonny Herrera, who helped keep the cleansheet.
VENEZUELA MOVES OUT OF BASEMENT BY SMASHING BOLIVIA
Things are only going from bad to worse for Bolivia.
After recently being embarrassed by getting docked four points by FIFA for fielding an ineligible player, Bolivia endured a 5-0 beatdown at the hands of lowly Venezuela. La Vinotino got its first win of this cycle at last thanks to a third-minute header from Jacobo Kouffatti and hat-trick performance from Josef Martinez.
The other player to find the back of the net against a Bolivia side that was hurt in part by poor goalkeeping was Romulo Otero, who capped the scoring at Estadio Monumental de Maturin in the 75th minute. The win allowed Venezuela to leapfrog La Verde, which is now in last place in the table.
STANDINGS (Round 11)
1. Brazil (24 points | 7-1-3 | 26 Goals For | 9 Goals Against)
2. Uruguay (23 points | 7-2-2 | 23 Goals For | 8 Goals Against)
3. Colombia (18 points | 5-3-3 | 15 Goals For | 12 Goals Against)
4. Ecuador (17 points | 5-4-2 | 19 Goals For | 16 Goals Against)
5. Chile (17 points | 5-4-2 | 18 Goals For | 16 Goals Against)
6. Argentina (16 points | 4-3-4 | 11 Goals For | 12 Goals Against)
7. Paraguay (15 points | 4-4-3 | 11 Goals For | 16 Goals Against)
8. Peru (14 points | 4-5-2 | 18 Goals For | 18 Goals Against)
9. Venezuela (5 points | 1-8-2 | 14 Goals For | 26 Goal Against)
10. Bolivia (4 points | 1-9-1 | 9 Goals For | 31 Goals Against)
What do you think of this round of South American qualifiers? Which teams and players impressed you?How much trouble is Argentina in? Impressed with Brazil’s showing? Surprised by Peru’s comeback win?
Share your thoughts below.