At some point, Argentina will have to get used to playing and winning without Messi. In Calama, in the north of Chile, there was a simulation of this. La Albiceleste played without their star, out of the squad due to a request from PSG. That did not mean any setback because the Argentines already have their direct ticket to the World Cup in Qatar. Victory 1-2 as a visitor in the Chilean field and without frights. The only thing left for them is to close the gap against Brazil in the standings.
The Argentine team trusted Ángel Di María as its new leader. The also player of the Parisian club was key to opening the door to his team. Just in the ninth minute of the game, the slender player outwitted three rivals to accommodate himself and score a goal from outside the area, right in the corner to beat the eternal Claudio Bravo in the goalkeeper. In the absence of the Argentine 10, Lionel Scaloni, the coach, sent Alejandro to the field Papuan Gómez, who has shone with Lopetegui’s Sevilla. The Chilean response, desperate to find a good result, was accompanied by new blood. Marcelino Núñez centered so that Ben Brereton, born in England, scored the 1-1 partial. Argentina set the score of the game when Rodrigo De Paul shot against Bravo and the Betis goalkeeper, when trying to reject, left the ball to Lautaro Martínez for 1-2.
The Red has a bad time. The Chileans, right now, are out of the World Cup. Nor did they qualify in Russia 2018. The management of Martín Lasarte has not yet turned on and leaves key points along the way. He will have the match against Bolivia, in the suffocating La Paz, to try to revive himself in the tournament. Argentina will face Colombia on Tuesday, February 2, and will seek to remain undefeated (nine wins, five draws).
Video arbitration saves Brazil
Ecuador has been one of the surprising teams in South America. Ecuadorians are third (24 points) in the classification below Brazil (36) and Argentina (32). This Thursday they had the opportunity to make sure with their ticket, and they were very close. The Ecuadorians lost Alexander Domínguez, their goalkeeper, by expulsion because he left the studs on the neck of the Brazilian Matheus Cunha. Then the Canarinha lost their winger Emerson due to a double yellow card and they were about to see their goalkeeper, Alisson, sent off when he raised his foot on a goal kick over the head of Enner Valencia. The referee expelled him, but the VAR rectified.
The Brazilian goal was in charge of the Praetorian Casemiro, but the Ecuadorians pressed until with 15 minutes remaining they got the tie with Félix Torres in a corner kick. A play that left everyone in the area planted. Already in added time, Alisson came out with his fists to clear and the whistle ruled, without much thought, that it was a penalty. The Ecuadorians were already savoring their direct classification, however, the VAR frustrated everything, for the good of Brazil, which remains unstoppable (11 wins and three draws).
Uruguay, year one without Maestro Tabárez
La Celeste left behind the Óscar Washington Tabárez era last November. The legendary coach led the national team for 15 years. His relief was Diego Alonso, a former soccer player who has carved out his career as a coach in Mexico. Alonso recruited Cholo Simeone’s physical trainer at Atlético, Óscar Ortega, and tried to shake up his starting eleven. His first match ended with victory and one in hostile territory: Asunción. The Uruguayans beat Paraguay 0-1 with a goal from Luis Suárez.
The victory gives them back expectations of getting into the Qatar World Cup because they chained four defeats in the qualifying rounds (Argentina 3-0 and 0-1, Brazil 4-1 and Bolivia 3-0). However, the Uruguayans need Colombia and Peru to have poor results to qualify directly. Diego Alonso’s Uruguay will face Venezuela next Tuesday.
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