SAO PAULO (AP) — On a day overshadowed by the shocking suspension of the superclasico between Brazil and Argentina because of COVID-19 protocols, Uruguay and Colombia added key points in South American qualifying for the World Cup.
The Uruguayans thrashed eighth-place Bolivia 4-2 at home to move into fourth place with 12 points after eight matches. Colombia had a 1-1 draw at Paraguay. It was Colombia’s third consecutive draw, but enough for Reinaldo Rueda’s lineup to stop Paraguay moving into fifth spot in the standings.
The top four teams in South American qualifiers get direct spots at next year’s World Cup in Qatar. The fifth-place team will go into an intercontinental playoff.
FIFA will decide the future of the qualifier between competition-leading Brazil and second-place Argentina. Their match was stopped after 7 minutes with a 0-0 score after local health authorities walked onto the field in a bid to remove three England-based Argentina players who they believe should have been in quarantine rather than playing in Sao Paulo.
Uruguay’s veteran strike duo of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez was out for the encounter, but Óscar Tabárez’s team had little trouble against a weak Bolivia lineup.
Giorgian de Arrascaeta opened the scoring in the 17th minute from close range. Federico Valverde doubled the lead in the 31st with a free kick from the left edge of the box. Agustin Alvares added a third, his first for the national team, in the 47th.
Bolivia responded with a goal by Marcelo Martins in the 59th after a mistake by the Uruguayan defense. But Uruguay responded eight minutes later from the spot with de Arrascaeta.
Martins reduced the margin in the 84th, also from the spot.
Cavani missed the match because of travel restrictions imposed by Manchester United, and Suárez was injured.
Uruguay’s next match is against Ecuador in Montevideo on Thursday. Bolivia will next play in Argentina.
Colombia entered the game determined to improve on its poor performance in a 1-1 draw at Bolivia, but Paraguay opened the scoring in the 40th minute.
Ángel Romero nutmegged defender Davinson Sanchez and set up a simple finish for Antonio Sanabria.
Colombia rallied in the second half and put Juan Guillermo Cuadrado on the spot in the 53rd after a handball awarded by the video referee. The Colombians had more possession late in the game but weren’t able to convert that into goals.
Also on Sunday, third-place Ecuador was held to a 0-0 draw by Chile. The Ecuadorians now have 13 points, two behind Argentina, and Chile is in seventh spot with seven points.
Peru and Venezuela, two teams of the bottom of the 10-team round robin group, were playing later Sunday.
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