Ecuador hold Brazil and near World Cup

Published January 29, 2022
QUITO: Brazil’s goalkeeper Alisson vies for the ball with Ecuador’s Enner Valencia during their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers at the Rodrigo Paz Delgado Stadium.
—AFP
QUITO: Brazil’s goalkeeper Alisson vies for the ball with Ecuador’s Enner Valencia during their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers at the Rodrigo Paz Delgado Stadium. —AFP

MONTEVIDEO: Ecuador are one win away from returning to the World Cup after a 1-1 home draw with South American qualifying leaders Brazil on Thursday.

Coach Gustavo Alfaro’s team will qualify to play in Qatar if they beat Peru next week after a remarkable qualifier in Quito where Felix Torres’ header 15 minutes from time canceled out an early Casemiro strike.

The incident-packed clash saw both sides have a player sent off inside the first 20 minutes and Brazil goalkeeper Alisson shown a red card on two occasions only for both to be rescinded after consultation with the Video Assistant referee (VAR).

Ecuador had a goal chalked off and two penalty awards rescinded via VAR, including one in second-half stoppage time, leaving their Argentine coach Alfaro furious.

We’re shocked by the development of the match, by all the strange things, by everything that happened,” said Alfaro.

I don’t want any favours, all I want is justice. We feel that we had the chance to achieve a historic victory taken away from us.”

Chile, once a force in the region, saw their chances shrink dramatically after a 2-1 home loss to second-placed Argentina.

English-born Ben Brereton Diaz scored for Chile in Calama but goals from Angel Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez gave Argentina, who rested Lionel Messi, victory.

We knew it was going to be difficult at high altitude and after a long flight,” said Di Maria.“The important thing is that we come away with a win. Everything is always much easier when Leo is here. The important thing is that we keep working like we’ve been doing and bringing joy to Argentines.”

The Chileans will have to pull good results at Bolivia and Brazil, with their last match in the competition likely to be in Santiago against bitter rivals Uruguay.

Uruguay rose back to contention after a 1-0 win at Paraguay, with a goal by veteran Luis Suarez. It was the team’s first win for new coach Diego Alonso, who took over after veteran Oscar Tabarez was fired due to poor results.

Suarez struck a sweet left-foot volley five minutes into the second half in Asuncion to energise Uruguay’s faltering qualification campaign.

Brazil (36 points) and Argentina (32) have already qualified for the World Cup. Ecuador have 24 points, five ahead of Uruguay. Colombia and Peru, who clash on Friday, are at 17 points. Chile have 16 and could be overtaken by Bolivia (15), who were playing Venezuela, the only team in the region out of contention for a spot, on Friday.

South America have four direct World Cup spots, and the fifth-placed team will play an international playoff for a berth.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2022

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