South American rewind: Argentina continues surge toward World Cup

By Jose M. Romero

Lionel Messi and and Gonzalo Higuain scored first-half goals for Argentina, and the South American power held on for a 2-1 World Cup qualifier win over Chile in Santiago, Chile Tuesday night.

Argentina has 20 points from nine matches in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying to lead the eight-team table. Brazil, which crushed Japan 4-0 in a friendly in Poland on Tuesday, does not have to qualify since it is the 2014 host team.

Higuain, a Real Madrid forward, left the game in the second half with an ankle injury. Felipe Gutierrez scored for Chile in the 90th minute, but Chile didn’t have enough time to salvage a point. Chile (12 points) is now tied for the fourth and final automatic qualification spot in CONMEBOL, and qualifying resumes in March of next year.

In other CONMEBOL action….

BOLIVIA 4, Uruguay 1

Carlos Saucedo recorded a hat trick in Bolivia’s 4-1 rout of struggling Uruguay Tuesday in La Paz.

Saucedo, a 33-year-old forward making his World Cup qualifying debut, scored in the 6th, 50th and 54th minutes to lead Bolivia, which is trying get into the top four for qualifying but has only eight points from nine matches.

Luis Suarez scored Uruguay’s lone goal after the match was long decided.

VENEZUELA 1, ECUADOR 1

The two teams played to a 1-1 draw in Puerto La Cruz, Ven., on Tuesday, with first-half goals coming from Juan Arango in the sixth minute for La Vinotinto and Segundo Castillo in the 22nd minute for Ecuador.

Ecuador trails Argentina in second place in the qualifying standings with 17 points from nine matches. Venezuela is tied for fourth but needs points to assure itself a top-four automatic qualifier position.

The fifth-place team from CONMEBOL must go through a play-in series to get to the World Cup.

PARAGUAY 1, PERU 0

At home in Asuncion, Paraguay got a much-needed three points as it tries to rise out of the eighth and last spot in the region. Pablo Aguilar scored the only goal of the match in the 52nd minute.

Paraguay has just seven points from nine matches. Peru isn’t faring much better at eight points.

What are your thoughts on the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying? Who will be in your top four?

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13 Responses to South American rewind: Argentina continues surge toward World Cup

  1. Aguinaga says:

    Halfway through and in 2nd place, still SO much work to do. South American qualifying, with the quality of the teams, the distances the players must travel, the absolute intensity and passion of the fans.. and the complete gamut of playing conditions and surfaces is the toughest, most grueling pre-World Cup tourney on the planet. Under that light, very happy with a tie last night, and thrilled with their performance so far… vamos Ecuador!!

  2. Steve C says:

    Conmebol has got to be the most exciting region when it comes to qualification. I was going to say “hardest” and then though that 6/10 teams could wind up qualifying. I’m still rooting for Venezuela to finally get into the dance.

    • THomas says:

      I always wonder what qualifying would look like if Conmebol and Concacaf were combined. It would obviously be tougher and have a format likely similar to Europe. But with 10 or so places up for grabs it would make fore a more interesting qulifying process. Also we’d have a hell of a regional title, perhaps rivaling the Euros (not really, but would be more interesting than the Gold Cup and Copa America on a global level).

      • David JS says:

        I think it would rival the Euros, for sure. If for no other reason than exposing the great teams in South America to the massive North American television markets, plus the timing would be better for primetime kickoffs. It’d be really, really awesome tournament.

      • The Truth says:

        Are you serious? Concacaf would get trashed!!! Concacaf is so far below. Mexico has lost home only 1 time ever!!!! Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Paraguay, Colombia, Chile could all beat Mexico at home. Lets see Mexico, USA etc… trying to get away points.

        • David JS says:

          It would be a sweet 16 team tournament, and yes SA would probably dominate the podium so to speak, but it would generate ridiculous interest in North America regardless. It could work with 8 qualifiers from CONMEBOL, 6 from CONCACAF, and 2 playoffs between the next 2 teams from both regions. Going by the current FIFA rankings:
          CONMEBOL- Argentina (4), Uruguay (7), Colombia (9), Brazil (14), Chile (17), Ecuador (20), Peru (37), Paraguay (38)
          CONCACAF- Mexico (19), USA (32), Panama (43), Jamaica (52), Haiti (60), Canada (61)
          2-legged playoffs: Venezuela (39) vs. Honduras (66), and Bolivia (72) vs. Costa Rica (72)
          and the hypothetical groups could be…
          Group A: Argentina, USA, Peru, Costa Rica
          Group B: Uruguay, Ecuador, Paraguay, Canada
          Group C: Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Haiti
          Group D: Brazil, Chile, Panama, Jamaica
          I’ve officially spent far too much time hypothesizing this “SuperCopa Americas” but, even if it were dominated by the CONMEBOL teams for the most part, you can’t tell me this wouldn’t rival the Euros as a quadrennial tournament in the 2nd summer after every World Cup.

  3. PD says:

    Gotta admit I love it when Uruguay struggles now. Suarez’s handball in SA was such a travesty.

    • njnjljbguuhjnbbn,mmnnnnnnnnnnnn.l says:

      and yet tons of people in Uruguay regard him as a HERO

    • Eurosnob says:

      PD, just let it go. Suarez’s handball was a smart and unselfish play, the only play that gave his team any chance to win and advance, which they did. He got his red card for the handball and was sent off. If he does not stop the ball with his hand, it’s a goal at the end of the regulation time and his team does not have any time to come back. It was the smartest red card, I’ve ever seen. If you want to complain about travesty is SA, you should complain about the Ivory Coast player who got Kaka sent off by faking that he was hit in the face and rolling on the ground in agony.

    • THomas says:

      I can’t believe how much Uruguay is struggling. They looked really good and most of their talent is coming into or in the midst of their primes.

    • THomas says:

      If Dempsey handles the ball on the line to send the US to the semis at Brazil 2014, I doubt you’ll feel the same way.

  4. mike says:

    this is probably of little interest to anyone here but me…but the most interesting thing about this mix of game reports is the blurb about Saucedo. Last night, the announcers of the USA vs. Guatemala game mentioned Carlos Ruiz’s age. What was it? 32? 33? But he has been at the highest level for a long time. Out trots Carlos Saucedo for a hat trick and his world cup qualifying DEBUT at the slightly post-pubescent age of 33. LOVE IT!

  5. FakeU says:

    See? If we had more coverage on South America, we’d know this tid bit about Saucedo. Hell, maybe he could be signed as a DP, given his age.

    Get on it Ives!