After seven long months, World Cup Qualifying in South America resumed with the start of the fifth round of games.
It just might have been worth the wait.
After Matchdays 5 and 6 were postponed in March, Conmebol’s qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup picked back up again on Thursday with four of the five games scheduled for Matchday 7 taking place. Argentina and Chile led the way with a stalemate that saw stars Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez find the back of the net while Colombia throttled Peru in Reinaldo Rueda’s first game in charge of the former nation.
Elsewhere, Bolivia overcame a major goalkeeping error to grab its first three points of the qualifying campaign with a home win over Venezuela while Uruguay and Paraguay played to a hard-fought draw that came with a bit of controversy. Brazil and Ecuador played the final game of the round on Friday night, and Neymar led his nation to a fifth straight victory with his latest strong showing.
Here is a rundown of the latest matchday results in CONMEBOL and updated standings:
Argentina 1-1 Chile
(Lionel Messi, 24′) — (Alexis Sanchez 36′)
Argentina unveiled a Diego Maradona statue prior to kickoff, and Lionel Messi gave La Albiceleste a lead that had the team thinking it might move into first place. Alexis Sanchez and Chile spoiled the night for the hosts, though, with an equalizer that came just 12 minutes after Messi’s converted penalty. La Roja goalkeeper Claudio Bravo later came up with a world-class save that you will not want to miss to deny Messi on a free kick, giving Chile a valuable road point and leaving Argentina second in the standings.
Peru 0-3 Colombia
(Yerry Mina 40′, Mateus Uribe 49′, Luis Diaz 55′)
The Reinaldo Rueda era in Colombia has gotten off to a very good start. Los Cafeteros went into Peru and defeated La Blanquirroja in lopsided fashion, with three different players finding the back of the net in Rueda’s first game in charge. Peru was partially undone by a questionable second yellow card to defender Miguel Trauco late in the first half, but never really came close to finding an equalizer as it fell to last place while Colombia rose to sixth.
Uruguay 0-0 Paraguay
A refereeing decision was a big talking point in a stalemate between Uruguay and Paraguay that yielded very few clear-cut chances. La Celeste thought it had struck in the first half via Jonathan Rodriguez, but a controversial offside call on Matias Viña negated the effort. La Albirroja had a chance earlier in the road game to break the deadlock, but Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera came up with a flying save to deny Angel Romero.
Bolivia 3-1 Venezuela
(Marcelo Martins 5′, 83′; Diego Bejarano 60′) — (Jhon Chancellor 26′)
A major blunder from goalkeeper Carlos Lampe threatened to leave Bolivia winless through five games, but Diego Bejarano bailed his teammate out and helped La Verde pick up a deserved victory. Bejarano authored the winner and assisted on a late insurance goal to overcome Lampe’s first-half gaffe vs. Venezuela. Lampe spilled a free kick from distance in the 26th minute that allowed Jhon Chancellor to equalize for La Vinotinto, but Bolivia fought back and got two headed goals after halftime to prevail.
Brazil 2-0 Ecuador
(Richarlison 65′, Neymar 90+4′)
Table-topping Brazil stayed perfect in this qualifying campaign after scoring a pair of second-half goals to beat Ecuador, 2-0, at home. Neymar led the way in the victory for La Verde-amarela with a game-winning assist and stoppage-time goal, though the superstar only struck after retaking a missed penalty. While La Tricolor did not concede until after the hour-mark, it was largely outplayed, finishing with three shots, zero on target, and 34 percent possession.
1. Brazil……….15 pts……….+12 GD
2. Argentina……….11 pts……….+4 GD
3. Ecuador……….9 pts……….+5 GD
4. Paraguay……….7 pts………. +1 GD
5. Uruguay……….7 pts……….0 GD
6. Colombia……….7 pts……….-2 GD
7. Chile……….5 pts……….0 GD
8. Bolivia……….4 pts……….-5 GD
9. Venezuela……….3 pts……….-6 GD
10. Peru……….1 pt……….-9 GD