SAO PAULO (AP) – In the first match of almost a year, Argentina and Uruguay beat their South American World Cup qualifiers on Thursday.
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez each scored from the spot, but did nothing else to cheer up the empty stadiums of a region still plagued by the Covit-19 epidemic.
Messi scored Argentina’s only goal of the game against Ecuador at La Pamponera Stadium, while Suarez scored in the last minute of Uruguay’s 2-1 win over Chile in Montevideo. Paraguay were held to a 2-2 draw by Peru.
The rest of the opening matches of the South American qualifiers for Qatar 2022 end on Friday, with Brazil playing without Neymar, Bolivia and James Rodriguez ‘against Colombia and Venezuela. All 10 teams will be back on Tuesday.
South America will have four live berths at the next World Cup. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia start out as favorites for those places, in that order. A fifth-best team could qualify for the intercontinental playoffs, with Peru and Chile being strong contenders. The qualifying phase ends on March 2022.
Messi had more independence with his national team than he had in Barcelona recently. Despite the goal from the spot in the 13th minute, he did not shine as expected and saw his two attacking teammates Lutaro Martinez and Lucas Ocampo, wasted chances in the match in Buenos Aires.
Messi’s favorite partner with Argentina, striker Sergio Aguero, has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.
“It’s been a tough year for us Argentines around the world. Just like we did. ”
Messi, who has yet to win a trophy with his national team, had only two shots on goal.
Despite having some time to prepare under new coach Gustavo Albaro, Ecuador sometimes threatened Argentina’s lead in the second half.
Messi was allowed to play despite receiving a red card during the 2019 Copa America. The sentence was commuted because it had to be executed within a year.
Argentina’s next challenge will be at the height of La Paz against Bolivia. Ecuador welcomes Uruguay.
Without Edinson Cavani, who missed the selection due to a lack of action in recent months, striker Luis Suarez was expected to be Uruguay’s key player against Chile. After opening the score in the 39th minute with a penalty awarded by the video reviewer he seemed to be set for it.
But Chile did not allow the new Atletico Madrid goalkeeper to command the game, with senior striker Alexis Sanchez beating Uruguay goalkeeper Martin Campana 1-1 in the 54th game with a gentle right-footed shot.
As coach Oscar Tabares predicted, Uruguay missed out on its hardcore supporters at the Estadio Centennial. But just as a handful of staff and players thought the game would end in a draw, Maxi Gomez scored in stop time from the edge of the box.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty in these qualifying players and we don’t know what it will be like,” Tabares said in a note on the epidemic. “Playing without fans affects us a lot. It will not be football until there is no attendance. ”
At his celebration, Suarez showed off a shirt that was well liked by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. Muslera is recovering from a broken leg and her mother recently died.
Uruguay will face Ecuador in the next round. Chile hosts Colombia.
Peruvian striker Andre Guerrero was the key figure in the match at Paraguay’s Defensours del Sacco ground. He opened the scoring with a powerful right-footed volley in the 52nd minute, keeping the pressure on the hosts and convincing the Peruvians that they could leave Asuncion with the win.
But then substitute Angel Romero caught a brace from close range to highlight Paraguay in the 66th and 81st minutes.
Carrillo’s powerful title equals Peru in 85th place, giving spectators a point in Paraguay before a treat to Brazil in Lima on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Paraguay will play in Venezuela, the only South American team to ever qualify for the World Cup.
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