World Cup qualifying

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Peru tops New Zealand, lands final World Cup berth

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Jefferson Farfan’s first half goal and a terrific second half save from Pedro Gallese led Peru to a 2-0 home win and the final place in the 2018 World Cup.

Christian Ramos also scored for Peru, which earns its first World Cup berth since 1982 and gives CONMEBOL five teams in the World Cup.

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Farfan, 33, laced a slightly-deflected offering past first half star Stefan Marinovic in in the 27th minute to give Peru the lead.

Still, New Zealand’s fate didn’t change much. The Kiwis would need an away goal to put them in Russia.

Second half sub Chris Wood of Burnley nearly provided it, but Gallese was wise to the threat.

WATCH LIVE: Peru vs. New Zealand

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The final spot in the 2018 World Cup will go the team to emerge from Wednesday’s second leg between New Zealand and Peru in Lima.

WATCH LIVE ON NBC UNIVERSO

The Peruvian hosts finished fifth in CONMEBOL, while New Zealand is the Oceania champions.

Kickoff is at 9:15 p.m. ET

San Jose Earthquakes’ Kip Colvey starts for New Zealand, as does West Ham’s Winston Reid. Burnley’s Chris Wood is on the bench.

LINEUPS

Peru: Gallese; Advincula, Rodríguez, Ramos, Trauco; Tapia, Cueva, Flores; Polo, Ruidíaz, Farfán.

New Zealand: Marinovic; Wynne, Colvey, Boxall, Reid, Durante, Lewis, McGlinchey, Tuiloma, Thomas; Barbarouses.

Ranking the worst failures in World Cup qualifying

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So many high expectation nations missed the 2018 World Cup that a second-tier tournament is being bandied about, enough so that people are legitimately intrigued at the idea.

That begs the question: How did we get here? In some cases, sides missed the big dance due to wonky qualifying schedules. Others had tough draws and couldn’t rebound in a playoff. Another group just flat out flopped in red, white, and blue.

[ USMNT-PORTUGAL: Match recap | Player ratings ]

Who’s failure was most heinous? Let us count the ways, er, teams.

7) Netherlands — This is a nation that, like England, has overachieved so many times that neutrals expect more from them that, perhaps, is rational. Their domestic league is not what it once was, but finishing behind Sweden is a tough pill to swallow for a side which has been on the proverbial podium the past two World Cups and four times in its history.

6) Ivory Coast — Africa’s qualifying is brutal, but Les Elephants lost two of three home qualifiers and managed two scoreless draws away from home. In fact, the team was blanked thrice despite a unit with Gervinho, Salomon Kalou, Jonathan Kodija, and Wilfried Zaha. Yes, the nation is on a downswing, but still were the favorites to advance past Morocco.

5) Bosnia and Herzegovina — Perched atop the group for a decent period of qualifying, a loaded BNH side drew Greece home and away, lost in Cyprus, and lost at home to Belgium in a cycle which could’ve seen them make a deep run powered by Edin Dzeko, Sead Kolasinac, Asmir Begovic, and Miralem Pjanic.

4) Italy — The highest-ranked ELO team to miss the tournament, Italy had the misfortune of being drawn with Spain (and vice versa). Second-place there was no shame, but being unable to finish over two legs against Sweden may be understandable — Blågult only allowed nine goals in qualifying — but Gian Piero Ventura’s keeping Lorenzo Insigne out of the starting lineup will be questioned for a long, long time.

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3) Chile — CONMEBOL qualifying is as difficult as any confederation, and probably the toughest. Still, La Roja was shutout in six of its nine away qualifiers, including losses to eighth place Ecuador and ninth place Bolivia. For a side with Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal to be blanked that many times? Brutal.

2) Ghana – At least the Ivory Coast finished second in its group! Ghana drew all three of its home matches, managing its only win at the Republic of Congo. That means Apparently the Black Stars couldn’t imagine a World Cup without the USMNT.

*1b) United States — With respect to the improving nature of CONCACAF, the confederation’s relative weakness and wildly forgiving Hex means the Bruce Arena’s men did as poorly as any decent nation in the world. To not even make a playoff is embarrassing, and the first leg of Honduras versus Australia lets you know all that’s needed about the quality of the lesser friends of CONCACAF.

*1a) Australia — The asterisks is important because the Socceroos dominated Honduras in the first leg only to not find a goal, and can still advance to the World Cup with a win at 4 a.m. ET in Sydney. But losing to Honduras after finishing behind Saudi Arabia on the weakness of handing Thailand one of its only two points of qualifying? Wooooof.

Eriksen hat trick puts Denmark in World Cup (video)

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Only two spots remain in Russia after Denmark overcame an early scare to belt the Republic of Ireland in the second leg of their UEFA World Cup qualifying playoff in Dublin on Tuesday.

Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen scored thrice in the Danes’ 5-1 win over Martin O’Neill’s Irish, who led on Shane Duffy‘s opener.

[ USMNT: McKennie goal, Horvath howler ]

Andreas Christensen made it 1-1 and Eriksen’s first had Denmark up at the break. Ireland’s hopes went down the drain when Eriksen bagged two more in the second half, and “Lord” Nicklas Bendtner converted a 90th minute penalty to bag the berth.

The only remaining spots will be settled in the next 24 hours, as Honduras-Australia and Peru-New Zealand take qualifying to the wire.

Pro Soccer Talk’s second-chance World Cup tournament

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In the wake of Italy’s failure to reach World Cup 2018, Pro Soccer Talk thought it would be fun to come up with an “NIT”-like tournament that FIFA could potentially present next summer for those that missed out on the world’s most prominent football competition.

[ MORE: Italy misses the World Cup for first time since 1958 ]

For those that aren’t familiar, the NIT is the “other” college basketball tournament held each March for college teams that failed to be selected for the NCAA tournament.

To make USMNT supporters and fans of Chile, Italy, Ghana, Holland and others feel better, PST created a mock 18-team competition for next summer.


Here’s a look at the teams that could potentially be included in the tournament and how the bracket would stack up.

UEFA — Italy, Scotland, Wales, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Greece

CONMEBOL — Chile, Paraguay, Ecuador

CONCACAF — USMNT

AFC — Syria, Uzbekistan

CAF — Ghana, DR Congo, Ivory Coast, Uganda

Play-in games — Honduras-Australia loser & Peru-New Zealand loser

For hypothetic purposes, we’ll say that Honduras and Peru advance to the World Cup, leaving Australia and New Zealand eligible for the second-chance tournament.

From there, the teams are seeded 1-18 based on the latest FIFA rankings, with the top seeds (Chile and Wales) awaiting the winner two play-in matches.

What do you think of the concept of this sort of competition? Where would it be hosted? Which nations should be included?