Argentina in peril as WC race goes to wire

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Oct 2017 12:11:49


Oct 6,


LIONEL Messi and Argentina’s hopes of reaching the 2018 World Cup were left hanging in the balance after another stalemate on a nail-biting day of South American qualifying action. Argentina were held to a 0-0 draw in Buenos Aires by Peru, leaving the two-time world champions outside the automatic qualification places as they head into the final round of fixtures next Tuesday.

It was another desperately disappointing display by Argentina, who once again struggled to turn a wealth of possession into goals. Barcelona star Messi hit the post in the second half but could only watch in frustration after serving up a stream of chances for team-mates who failed to convert.

Syria boost WC hopes after late leveller against Australia

SYRIA’S hopes of reaching their first-ever World Cup are alive and kicking after they came from behind to grab a controversial first-leg 1-1 draw against Australia in Malacca. The Socceroos held a solitary one-goal lead for 45 minutes after Robbie Kruse’s strike in the first half but a disputed penalty, tucked home by Omar Al Soma with five minutes left, gave the Syrians a lifeline going into the return leg in Sydney.

Uruguay kept waiting after 0-0 draw in Venezuela

URUGUAY failed to break down Venezuela in a 0-0 draw on Thursday and were left waiting to bag what looked a certain place at the World Cup finals.

Late goals give Paraguay vital win over Colombia

TWO goals in the last three minutes gave Paraguay a 2-1 win over Colombia on Thursday and ensured both teams are still in contention for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia ahead of next week’s final qualifying matches.

Chile beat Ecuador 2-1 to keep WC hopes alive

CHILE survived a late scare to beat Ecuador 2-1 on Thursday and keep alive their hopes of reaching the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia as they moved into third-place in the 10-team South American qualifying group. Uruguay on brink, Colombia crash Brazil, who have already qualified in first place, were held to a 0-0 draw by eliminating Bolivia in La Paz earlier Thursday.

That left the focus on the teams jostling behind the five time champions for the three remaining automatic spots.
Uruguay, who are second with 28 points from 17 games, missed the chance to book their place in Russia after being frustrated 0-0 away at Venezuela. Uruguay’s Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani squandered a golden chance to win the game but shot wide in the 83rd minute.
The Uruguayans are all but assured of qualification however, needing only a draw or a win against lowly Bolivia in Montevideo next week to book their place.

South American champions Chile, meanwhile, resurrected their qualification hopes with a thrilling 2-1 win over Ecuador in Santiago. Striker Eduardo Vargas drilled in a low shot on 22 minutes to put the 2015 & 2016 Copa America champions 1-0 up. But Alex Ibarra equalised in the 82nd minute for Ecuador to silence the home crowd.

But with Chile’s fans still struggling to digest Ibarra’s strike, the hosts went back up the other end and Arsenal star rammed home a close-range finish after Arturo Vidal’s shot was only partially saved. The win saw Chile climb from sixth to third in the standings. Chile will qualify automatically if they are able to beat Brazil in their final game next week.

In Barranquilla, Colombia threw away what looked to be a certain victory that would have put them within touching distance of qualification as they crashed to a 2-1 defeat to Paraguay.Radamel Falcao scored with a deft lob to put Colombia 1-0 ahead in the 79th minute. But the Colombians inexplicably continued to press forward and were twice caught on the break by Paraguay.

Oscar Cardozo bundled in the equaliser for Paraguay in the 89th minute and then Tony Sanabria punished poor goalkeeping by David Ospina to poke in a second in injury time to clinch the win.