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Argentina, Uruguay stumble, Colombia cruise towards World Cup

DPA
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Despite the draw, Argentina stay on top of the standings, with the World Cup qualifiers set to returnmid-October

Below parArgentina were held to a 1-1 draw in their trip to Peru, in a performance that saw Lionel Messi (right) and company far from their best form. Here, Messi and Peru’s Alberto Rodriguez fight for possession during their match in Lima.Photo: reuters
Below parArgentina were held to a 1-1 draw in their trip to Peru, in a performance that saw Lionel Messi (right) and company far from their best form. Here, Messi and Peru’s Alberto Rodriguez fight for possession during their match in Lima.Photo: reuters

Argentina and Uruguay were held to disappointing draws on Tuesday in the South American qualifiers, while Colombia continued to cruise towards the Brazil 2014 World Cup and Paraguay gave further evidence of their current poor form.

The results left Argentina top of the standings, with 14 points in seven matches. Colombia and Ecuador follow with 13 points, while Uruguay and Chile have 12.

Venezuela - the only team to have played eight games so far - were on 11 points, while Peru trailed on seven. Bolivia, who did not play on Tuesday, and Paraguay had just four points.

The South American qualifiers grant four World Cup berths directly, plus the chance to earn a fifth in a play-off. Brazil are directly qualified for the 2014 finals, as hosts, and do not have to play in the region’s qualifiers.

Peru Defender Carlos Zambrano put the hosts ahead in the 21st minute, while Gonzalo Higuain made things 1-1 in the 37th minute. Things could have been worse for Argentina, since keeper Sergio Romero saved a penalty shot from Claudio Pizarro barely two minutes into the match.

“Everyone wants to beat Argentina,” said Javier Mascherano. “The important thing is we’re staying top.”

Colombia built on their recent surge in form with a 3-1 win over Chile in Santiago. With seven goals in two games since Friday, Colombia underlined their credentials for a return to the World Cup, which they have not played since France 1998.

Chile, down to 10 men since the 35th minute after Gary Medel was sent off, pulled ahead with a long-range shot from Matias Fernandez just seven minutes later.

Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez scored a free-kick goal in the 58th minute to set up his team’s comeback. In-form striker Radamel Falcao put Colombia ahead in the 73rd minute and fellow forward Teofilo Gutierrez added a third goal just three minutes later.

“We had the ability to make a comeback, and we ended the match very well,” said Colombia coach Jose Pekerman. He stressed that “it’s still very early” to talk about qualifying for Brazil 2014.

Gutierrez was more confident, although he too admitted that a long road remains ahead.

Uruguay and Ecuador drew 1-1 in Montevideo. The hosts, who came fourth in the 2010 World Cup and won last year’s Copa America, had been hoping to make amends for the 4-0 thrashing they got Friday in Colombia, but they were again disappointed.

“Now we’re going through a rough patch,” said Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez. “Let’s see how it changes in a month’s time. This is a very long race.”

Felipe Caicedo put Ecuador ahead from the penalty spot just seven minutes into the match, while Edinson Cavani drew in the 67th minute.

Venezuela dealt a severe blow on Tuesday to Paraguay’s chances of qualifying for Brazil 2014, by beating them 2-0 in Asuncion with striker Salomon Rondon scoring a brace.DPA


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