Argentina, Brazil win to boost World Cup qualifying chances
BARRANQUILLA, Colombia --
An Argentina without the injured Lionel Messi defeated Colombia 1-0 to get its faltering 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign back on track on Tuesday.
Lucas Biglia scored the only goal in the first half, chipping in from short range. It was also only Argentina's second goal in four qualifiers. Ecuador earned its fourth win from four games by defeating Venezuela 3-1.
Argentina, the World Cup runner-up a year ago to Germany, picked up its first victory without key players: Beside Messi, also out hurt were Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero.
Taking advantage of poor defending, Biglia broke into the middle alone and directed home a perfect pass from Ezequiel Lavezzi. After defeating Peru in its first qualifier last month, Colombia hasn't won its last three qualifiers and has only four points from four matches.
James Rodriguez was marked out of the match, and seldom linked up in the Colombia attack. Angel Di Maria should have made it 2-0 late in the first half, but shot wide of the far post after getting in all alone on Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina.
Argentina's Paulo Dybala also hit the post in the 89th. Fidel Martinez gave Ecuador a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, and Jefferson Montero made it 2-0 by halftime. Felipe Caicedo added a third in the second half.
Venezuela, the only team in the 10-team confederation never to play in the World Cup, has lost its first four qualifying matches. Substitute Josef Martinez scored Venezuela's late goal.
Brazil 3, Peru 0
Brazil revived its World Cup qualifying campaign with a 3-0 win over Peru on Tuesday.
Archrival Argentina, which has also struggled in early qualifying for Russia in 2018, got a similar boost with a 1-0 victory over Colombia. Douglas Costa got Brazil rolling in the 22nd minute, scoring off a cross from by Willian, who tormented Peru all night from his spot on the right side.
Renato Augusto made it 2-0 in the 57th, slotting home a 15-meter (yard) shot behind Peru keeper Diego Penny. Filipe Luis chipped it into the wide-open goal to score in the 77th after Costa lashed a left-footed shot that Penny deflected.
Brazil improved to seven points from four matches, and Peru stayed on three points from four. Peru's Paolo Guerrero and Carlos Lobaton had chances in the first few minutes before the game tilted toward Brazil.
Despite much of the possession, Brazil struggled to build up an attack for much of the match. Barcelona star Neymar was more involved than he has been in recent matches, but was slowed at time by fouls, which were constant in the stop-and-go game.
Costa almost scored his second on a free kick in the 39th, which hooked in from the left side and hit the far post behind Peru Penny.
Venezuela 1, Ecuador 3
Ecuador won 3-1 at Venezuela to give it a perfect 12 points in four matches and the lead in qualifying.
Fidel Martinez gave Ecuador a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, and Jefferson Montero made it 2-0 by halftime. Felipe Caicedo added a third in the second half.
Venezuela, the only team in the 10-team South American confederation never to play in the World Cup, has lost its first four qualifying matches. Substitute Josef Martinez scored Venezuela's late goal.
Uruguay 3, Chile 0
Uruguay defeated Chile 3-0 for its third victory in four qualifying matches. Diego Godin, Martin Caceres and Alvaro Pereira scored for Uruguay, which has nine points and moved into second place in qualifying behind Ecuador.
Copa America champion Chile has seven points.
Paraguay 2, Bolivia 1
Paraguay defeated Bolivia 2-1 to improve to seven points. Dario Lezcano and Argentina-born Lucas Barrios scored for Paraguay.
Yasmani Duk scored for Bolivia, which as three points.