Montevideo - Brazil powered to the top of the table in South
America's 2018 Soccer World Cup qualifying race on Tuesday with a victory over
Venezuela as Argentina suffered a shock defeat at home to Paraguay.
Goals from Manchester City teenager Gabriel Jesus and
Chelsea's Willian secured a 2-0 win over Venezuela in a match interrupted by a
lengthy floodlight failure that plunged Merida's Estadio Metropolitano into
The victory was Brazil's fourth consecutive win of the
qualifying campaign and left the five-time world champions on top of the
standings with 21 points after 10 games.
The win was the latest evidence of Brazil's resurgence under
new coach Tite, who took over following the sacking of Dunga in June after the
Selecao's Copa America Centenario flop.
It is the first time since qualifying began that Brazil have
led the standings, and the team look firmly on course to maintain their record
of never having failed to qualify for a World Cup.
The acid test of Brazil's renaissance is likely to come next
month when they play old rivals Argentina, who stumbled to a 1-0 defeat at home
to Paraguay in Cordoba.
A superb counter-attacking goal from striker Derlis Gonzalez
on 18 minutes was enough to give Paraguay all three points as the hosts once
again struggled to cope with the absence of Lionel Messi.
Argentina have taken just two points from a possible nine in
their past three matches, all played without Barcelona star Messi.
The Argentinians rallied furiously in the second half, with
Angel Di Maria seeing a goal from a free-kick disallowed because of a foul
while both Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero went close.
But with Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar in defiant form
between the posts, the visitor held on for a battling victory which revives
their hopes of snagging one of the qualification berths.
The win left Paraguay just one point behind Argentina in the
standings after 10 games. Argentina occupy the fifth qualifying spot in the
table with 16 points, with Paraguay just behind on 15 points.
Chile, meanwhile, remain outside the qualification places
despite their 2-1 victory over Peru in Santiago in the regional derby known as
the "Clasico del Pacifico."
Chile, the dominant force in South American football over
the past two years with back-to-back wins in the Copa America, desperately
needed three points to get back on track after a stuttering start to the
Bayern Munich midfielder Atrudo Vidal got "La
Roja" off to a dream start, heading home on 10 minutes to put Chile 1-0
But a bold second half display from Peru was rewarded on 76
minutes when Edison Flores skipped clear on the edge of the area to rifle home
a low shot to make it 1-1.
It seemed as though Peru had done enough for a share of the
points but with time running out, Vidal found space near the edge of the
penalty area and lashed home a low shot to beat Pedro Gallese.
Chile's win leaves them seventh in the standings with 14
points, two points from the qualification places.
Earlier, leaders Uruguay were held to a 2-2 draw by fourth
placed Colombia in an entertaining duel in rain-swept Barranquilla.
Centre-back Yerry Mina headed Colombia's equalizer five
minutes from time after goals from Cristian Rodriguez and Barcelona superstar
Luis Suarez had helped Uruguay into a 2-1 lead at the Estadio Metropolitano.
Colombia had taken the lead through Abel Aguilar after 15
minutes to open the scoring.
In La Paz, two goals from Everton striker Enner Valencia
capped a tumultuous week for the England-based player as Ecuador came from 2-0
down to grab a 2-2 draw with Bolivia.
Valencia lashed home an 89th-minute strike to earn Ecuador a
point after earlier giving his team hope with a 48th-minute goal. Bolivia had
taken a 2-0 lead through 38-year-old striker Pablo Escobar.
Valencia's goals capped a dramatic week of duty with the
Last week, the 26-year-old was at the centre of a bizarre
incident during his team's win over Chile in Quito when he was accused of
feigning injury to avoid police officers waiting on the sidelines to arrest him
in connection with an alimony dispute.