Uruguay's defender Diego Godin celebrates after scoring against Bolivia during the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers match, at the Hernando Siles stadium in La Paz.
AIZAR RALDES/AFP/Getty Images
The visitor, without the suspended Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, had too much for the host, which finished the game with 10 men following Jair Torrico’s sending off. Uruguay kicked off its World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory over Bolivia thanks to goals from Martin Caceres and Diego Godin in La Paz.
The defensive duo struck in either half for Oscar Tabarez’s side in the opening game of the qualifying campaign in South America, earning the visitor its first win in Bolivia since 2007. An open encounter saw both goalkeepers called into action on a number of occasions before Caceres broke the deadlock with a calm finish.
Bolivia’s attempts to get back into the game saw Yasmani Duk twice go close, but the crossbar and Fernando Muslera were on hand to keep him at bay. Eventually the host’s profligacy was punished as Godin had the simple task of heading home Carlos Sanchez’s free kick after Daniel Vaca failed to collect the cross. A reckless challenge from Jair Torrico saw the Bolivia fullback sent off shortly after Godin’s goal, his moment of indiscipline ultimately allowing Uruguay to cruise to all three points.
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A lively start saw both sides threaten the opening goal, Jhasmani Campos firing two low efforts wide for the host either side of Abel Hernandez’s volley that was well saved by Vaca. The relentless start showed no sign of abating and with 10 minutes on the clock Uruguay â which was without suspended duo Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani â broke the deadlock, Caceres reacting quickly to sweep home after Vaca had made a superb save to deny Hernandez.
Bolivia quickly upped the tempo and went agonizingly close to levelling when Duk outmuscled Godin inside the penalty area, but his strike thudded against Muslera’s bar. Sanchez was denied a second Uruguay goal from a free kick after 20 minutes as Vaca tipped over, while Muslera was quickly on hand to deny Campos at the other end soon after.
Bolivia finished the half strongly and was again foiled by Muslera as Alejandro Chumacero’s curling effort was pushed wide. Keen to wipe out its deficit quickly after the restart Bolivia was immediately on the front foot, and Duk wasted an early opening with a wayward header â albeit under pressure from Godin. Duk was causing plenty of problems for the Uruguay backline and just before the hour his strength saw off two defenders. The loose ball dropped to substitute Oscar Diaz but his shot lacked power.
Having soaked up plenty of Bolivia pressure Uruguay delivered a sucker punch after 69 minutes as Godin doubled their advantage, the captain nodding home at the back post as Vaca failed to claim Sanchez’s left-wing delivery. A disappointing day for Bolivia was sealed two minutes later as Torrico’s strong challenge on Jose Gimenez earned him a straight red card, enabling Uruguay to control the closing minutes against the 10 men.
Colombia 2, Peru 0
Los Cafeteros begin the long road to Russia with a win over the 2015 Copa America semifinals thanks to a well-taken header from Teo and a cute finish from Cardona. Colombia’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign got off to the perfect start as goals from Teo Gutierrez and Edwin Cardona sealed all three points for Jose Pekerman’s side against Peru.
Gutierrez was on hand to direct Cristian Zapata’s header past Pedro Gallese, amid calls for offside, and Cardona’s scooped effort in stoppage time secured victory as Peru’s winless streak away from home in World Cup qualifying extended to 24 games – a run spanning back to 2004. Colombia, which reached the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals in Brazil, and Peru – bidding to reach the showpiece tournament for the first time since 1982 – met in a friendly last month that ended 1-1.
Thursday’s contest was similarly even throughout, as both teams enjoyed moments of ascendency without creating any clear-cut chances. Colombia, slowly but surely, started to take a stranglehold of proceedings as Peru – happy to sit back on the counter attack – was pegged further back. The home team’s first real sight on goal came via Carlos Bacca just past the half-hour mark, but the Milan striker’s header missed the target from close range after being picked out by Cardona.
Colombia continued to work the ball into good positions and it was not long before they finally made it count as Gutierrez broke the deadlock nine minutes before halftime. Juan Cuadrado’s corner kick was nodded down by Zapata and into the direction of Gutierrez, who directed the ball past goalkeeper Gallese, despite Peru’s appeals for offside.
Colombia almost doubled its lead in first-half stoppage time, but Gallese was on hand to stop Cardona’s free kick. Peru made a bright start to second half and enjoyed its best moment of the match. Paolo Guerrero hit the right post with a curled effort as the woodwork came to David Ospina’s rescue. Andre Carrillo, who set up Guerrero moments earlier, was then thwarted by a sliding block.
Colombia was not without their chances after the interval, but a number of misplaced passes hampered Jose Pekerman’s men. Bacca did have an opportunity to put the result beyond doubt with five minutes remaining, but his goal-bound shot was blocked. Second-half substitute Yordy Reyna almost made Colombia pay, but he fluffed his effort wide of the post and Cardona wrapped up the match on the counterattack with the last kick of the game as Peru failed to beat its South American rival for a fifth consecutive game.
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