Chile on pace to miss World Cup after another big loss

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Ecuador clobbered Chile on Thursday, putting the Chileans behind the 8-ball in their quest to make the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia scored in the 19th minute to lead Ecuador to a 3-0 win at the Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa in Quito. Goals from Cristian Ramirez and Felipe Caicedo also helped Ecuador move back into an automatic qualifying spot.

[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying ]

The result was also somewhat overshadowed by a bizarre incident in which police appeared to try and stop Enner Valencia from leaving the stadium on a stretcher. Earlier Thursday, reports emerged that Valencia was confronted by police regarding absent child support payments.

But the loss keeps Chile seventh, where they’ll remain regardless of tonight’s results. It’s a stunning turn of form for the back-to-back Copa America champions.

This is a side with Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, Charles Aránguiz and Eduardo Vargas, Claudio Bravo and Mauricio Isla. Yet Chile is off the pace for Russia, and would waste the final prime World Cup cycles of all six players.

Chile has lost four of its first nine qualifiers, those defeats at the hands of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and now Ecuador.

There are still nine World Cup qualifiers left for Chile, and here they are:

Tuesday vs. Peru
Nov. 10 at Colombia
Nov. 15 vs. Uruguay
March 23, 2017 at Argentina
March 28, 2017 vs. Venezuela
Aug. 31, 2017 vs. Paraguay
Sept. 5, 2017 at Bolivia
Oct. 5, 2017 vs. Ecuador
Oct. 10, 2017 at Brazil

Think La Roja will rebound?