MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, March 25 – Giorgian de Arrascaeta sent Uruguay to the World Cup with the only goal against Peru on Thursday, a result that also booked Ecuador’s ticket to Qatar, with a helping hand from Brazil.
Ecuador lost 3-1 to Paraguay but still qualified for a World Cup for only the fourth time – all this century – thanks to the victory of Uruguay and the 4-0 victory of Brazil already qualified over Chile.
Nineteen teams qualified for the final in Qatar later this year, with 13 places still available.
With Argentina, who will face Venezuela on Friday, also already qualified, Peru and Chile will now compete for fifth place in the intercontinental play-offs of the only South American qualifying group alongside Colombia, who have emphatically ended a streak of seven games without a goal with a 3-0 victory against Bolivia.
It’s a remarkable turnaround for Uruguay from a disastrous spell at the end of last year when they lost four games in a row, conceding 11 goals, scoring just one and slipping to the seventh place in the group of 10 teams.
It spelled the death knell for iconic coach Oscar Tabarez, who spent a record 15 years at the helm and guided the ‘Celeste’ to a 2010 World Cup semi-final and the Copa America title. one year later.
But his successor Diego Alonso won three out of three and took Uruguay – winners in 1930 and 1950 – to a fourth consecutive final.
Ecuador’s qualification owes more to a solid campaign than Thursday’s chaotic performance in pouring rain on difficult ground in Ciudad del Este.
The omens were poor heading into kick-off as Ecuador had already lost in all eight previous trips to Paraguay for World Cup qualifiers dating back to 1981.
Strikes from Robert Morales, an own goal from Piero Hincapie and Miguel Almiron won the game for Paraguay before Jordy Caicedo’s late consolation.
Neymar marked his return to the Brazil team with a penalty while Vinicius Junior, a Philippe Coutinho penalty and Richarlison wreaked havoc on Chile, whose qualification hopes were hanging by a thread.
Goals from Luis Diaz, Miguel Borja and Mateus Uribe kept Colombia’s chances alive.