Argentina is back atop the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying table thanks to a certain blonde-haired unretired superstar and a dogged defense, their 1-0 win over Uruguay one of five key results in South America on Thursday.
Argentina 1-0 Uruguay
Uruguay entered the day atop the table and ended it wishing Lionel Messi really did retire. The world’s best attacker pushed a deflected shot home before halftime, and Argentina dealt with a red card to Paulo Dybala for the second half.
Colombia 2-0 Venezuela
Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez scored in first half stoppage time and MacNelly Torres added a goal well into the second half as Los Cafeteros joined Ecuador with 13 points. Venezuela remains dead last with just a single point through seven matches.
Ecuador 0-3 Brazil
Those good Olympic vibes keep flowing for Brazil, who went to Ecuador and broke through with three goals in the final 20 minutes. Neymar broke the deadlock with a penalty before Man City’s Gabriel Jesus scored twice to seal the win. Brazil has 12 points, one shy of its hosts.
Paraguay 2-1 Chile
The hosts looked nothing like the side the USMNT beat at Copa America, scoring twice in the first quarter hour against a stunned Chilean team. Oscar Romero (Racing Club de Avellaneda) and Paulo da Silva (Toluca) had it 2-0 by the 10th minute.
Arturo Vidal answered with a header off a free kick before halftime to set Chile up for a big second half, but an equalizer didn’t come. To add insult to injury, Gary Medel took a red card in stoppage time.
Paraguay has leapt into sixth place. That’s level with Brazil on points, and drops Chile to 7th.
Bolivia 2-0 Peru
Don’t sleep on the old guys. Thirty-eight year old Pablo Escobar opened the scoring in the first half before 35 year-old Ronald Raldes capped the scoring as Bolivia picked up its second win of qualifying to move past Peru and into 8th place. Next up: a trip to Chile.