Argentina and Chile in danger of missing out on World Cup
Messi and Co. have two matches to seal automatic qualifying berth
Argentina and Chile's World Cup qualification hopes were left on a knife edge yesterday morning (Singapore time) after the South American heavyweights slipped up once again on the road to next year's Finals in Russia.
Argentina needed a second-half own goal to help them snatch a 1-1 draw against already-eliminated Venezuela in Buenos Aires while Chile crashed to a 1-0 defeat by Bolivia in La Paz.
The results left 2014 World Cup finalists Argentina and reigning Copa America champions Chile outside of the automatic qualifying places and sets up a nail-biting final two rounds of matches next month.
Argentina are fifth in the standings with 24 points from 16 games while Chile are sixth with 23 points.
The Argentinians, who would face a play-off against New Zealand if they remain fifth, host fourth-placed Peru next month in Buenos Aires before an awkward final game at altitude against Ecuador.
Chile, meanwhile, will face Ecuador in Santiago on Oct 5, before heading to Brazil for their final qualifier five days later.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli admitted that his team had blown a golden opportunity to force themselves into the automatic qualifying places following Chile's defeat earlier in the day.
Sampaoli blamed poor first-half finishing for his side's failure to take all three points against the Venezuelans.
"We let a big chance pass, but this is football and you know that these things can happen, especially when you have chances at goal and you do not take them," he said.
"We have two games left against Peru and Ecuador and we need to win both of them,
"Things are more complicated for us because we thought we would be in a better position after the two matchdays.
"But we are going with two points in the two games in which we had superiority, but we could not capitalise."
Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi echoed Sampaoli's sentiments after watching his side lose in La Paz.
"We will fight, we will make the greatest effort possible, we believe that we have the ability to compete with the best and we will try to obtain the results that allow us to qualify," said Pizzi.
Although Chile have a difficult run-in against Ecuador and Brazil, Pizzi said that his side had not lost hope.
"There are two matches left, I'm going to fight and my players are going to fight, with all the force we have," Pizzi said.
Meanwhile, Uruguay moved to the brink of qualification with a typically combative 2-1 win over Paraguay in Asuncion yesterday morning.
Federico Valverde fired Uruguay into the lead with a deflected shot on 76 minutes before Luis Suarez broke clear to set up the visitors' second four minutes later.
The Barcelona superstar rounded goalkeeper Anthony Silva and then saw his shot hit the woodwork only to rebound into the net off Gustavo Gomez.
Angel Romero pulled a goal back for Paraguay in the 88th minute, but hopes of a dramatic late fightback came to nothing.
The result leaves Uruguay second in the standings with 27 points from 16 games, 10 points behind Brazil, who drew 1-1 with Colombia yesterday morning.
A win in Venezuela in their next game would see them through to the Finals. - AFP
- Argentina 1 Venezuela 1
- Bolivia 1 Chile 0
- Colombia 1 Brazil 1
- Ecuador 1 Peru 2
- Paraguay 1 Uruguay 2