The brutal process that is CONMEBOL World Cup qualification began Thursday evening with a trio of matches and goals from ghosts of many qualifying past.
Lionel Messi converted a penalty and became the first Argentine to appear in five different World Cup qualifying cycles, while Uruguay’s Luis Suarez scored in a win over Alexis Sanchez and Chile.
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There was also a wild second-half in Peru’s 2-2 draw in Paraguay. More on that below.
Each of the South American confederation’s 10 nations plays the field home and away in a grinding, unforgiving tournament which leaves five teams out-of-luck and a sixth requiring an inter-confederation playoff to reach Qatar 2022.
Uruguay 2-1 Chile
Super sub Maximiliano Gomez needed just six minutes to conjure a majestic winner and give Uruguay a great start to qualifying in the toughest match-up of the Matchday.
Luis Suarez’s penalty before halftime was answered by Alexis Sanchez after the break.
Gomez entered for LAFC’s Brian Rodriguez, who had drawn Suarez’s penalty, in the 87th and picked the ball out from underneath him to hit this hammer.
Chile also was somehow deprived a penalty when a fairly obvious handball was not altered by VAR.
Regardless, this Gomez strike is nasty.
Gooooooooool #Uruguay 🇺🇾‼️‼️
— Jose Mesa Corrales (@JmesaSports) October 9, 2020
Paraguay 2-2 Peru
A scoreless first half gave way to chaos. The mayhem saw ex-Watford man Andre Carrillo sandwich a pair of goals around a brace by San Lorenzo’s Angel Romero.
Carrillo put Peru ahead in the 52nd and the lead lasted 14 minutes, as Alberto Espinola set up Romero for two goals in a quarter-hour.
But Saint-Etienne man Miguel Trauco cued up Carrillo for a second goal with minutes to play, the Al-Hilal winger recording his first Peru goals since a 2018 World Cup group stage match against Australia.
Newcastle’s Miguel Almiron limped off in the 90th minute; Magpies supporters will be watching the injury news closely on Friday.
Argentina 1-0 Ecuador
Lionel Messi became the first Argentine to play in five World Cup qualification cycles and celebrated with an early penalty.
Messi’s 71st goal improves on his Argentina record and comes in his 138th cap, nine fewer than former club and country teammate Javier Mascherano’s record. He’s also posted 47 assists.
Forty-six of those caps came in World Cup qualification, where Messi has 22 goals and 11 assists.
Gol da Argentina!
Lionel Messi abre o placar.
Argentina 1×0 Equador pic.twitter.com/kXWyxh7yhI
— Fut TT (@OficialFutTT) October 9, 2020
Upcoming CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers
Colombia v Venezuela
Brazil v Bolivia
Bolivia v Argentina
Ecuador v Uruguay
Venezuela v Paraguay
Peru v Brazil
Chile v Colombia