The Albicelestes would have been mindful of their last visit to La Paz during World Cup qualification. 4 years ago they were hammered 6 – 1 in the thin air of the Bolivian capital. It wasn’t quite as bad this time around but they did struggle.
The home team dominated the first half and deservedly went ahead in the 25th minute. A long ball by Chumacero drifted into the penalty area and met the head of Marcelo Martins, then the net. The defending was fairly dreadful but the ex-Wigan striker did well to direct the ball past Sergio Romero.
The goal stung Argentina into action and they equalised just before half time through Ever Banega. Again the defending was poor when Clemente Rodriguez crossed to the penalty spot. With 3 defenders around him, Banega managed to direct his header low into the Bolivian net.
Argentina pushed for the winner during the 2nd half but they were unable to beat the impressive Sergio Galarza. Banega and Messi were both thwarted by the Bolivian veteran late on.
The point keeps Argentina at the summit of the qualification table 4 points ahead of Ecuador, Bolivia lie 2nd bottom and struggling to make the qualifying positions.
P W D L Pts
Argentina 11 7 3 1 24
Ecuador 10 6 2 2 20
Colombia 10 6 1 3 19
Chile 11 5 0 6 15
Venezuela 11 4 3 4 15
Uruguay 11 3 4 4 13
Peru 10 3 2 5 11
Bolivia 11 2 3 6 9
Paraguay 11 2 2 7 8
A brace by Real Madrid’s Higuain sandwiching a Messi penalty was enough to overcome Venezuela.
Colombia 5 Bolivia 0
“El Cafeteros” were the first to start on Friday afternoon and they wasted no time in slapping aside Bolivia in Barranquilla. Torres, Valdes, Gutierrez, Falcoa and Armero each grabbed a goal to bolster their 2nd place position and condemn Bolivia to 2nd bottom.
Paraguay 1 Uruguay 1
In Montevideo, Luis Suarez had looked to have sealed a win with a late volley in 82 minutes. However, Benitez struck 4 minutes late to steal a valuable and unlikely point.
Argentina 3 Venezuela 0
In Buenos Aires it was business as usual as Gonzalo Higuain claimed a brace and a Messi penalty in between. The Argentinians consolidated the pole position, 4 points above Colombia.
Peru 1 Chile 0
Jefferson Farfan was the hero in Lima as he struck in the 87 minute against Chile. The Peruvians have had a rotten campaign but this rare win sees them rise above the bottom dwellers and reintroduce them to the 5th place battle.
2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or Shortlist:
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)Leo Messi (FC Barcelona)
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Gerard Pique (Barcelona)Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)
Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua)
Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG)
Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
Argentina continue to top the CONMEBOL table after their 2-1 away win against Chile last night.
Chile fell asleep for 4 minutes in the first half and allowed Messi and Higuain to claim a quick brace in 28 and 31 minutes. Argentina then needed only to hang on to claim 3 points but they did concede a late Gutierrez consolation.
In Puerto La Cruz, Ecuador recorded a fine away draw against Venezuela to bolster their qualification chances.
“La Vinotintos” took the lead, with what must have been the goal of the night through Juan Arango. The veteran captain collected the ball 30 yards from goal then unleashed an unstoppable howitzer past the flailing Dominguez.
Ecuador rallied and restored parity 15 minutes later through Segundo Castillo when he struck low from inside the box. Although both teams had chances to win it a draw was probably a fair result in an open and entertaining game
In Asuncion, Pablo Aguilar claimed the only goal of the night to win the bottom of the table clash against Peru. Barring a small miracle neither team should be in contention for the qualification spots.
The surprise of the night was in La Paz where Bolivia hammered Uruguay 4 -1. Carlos Saucedo grabbed a hat-trick to condemn Uruguay to their second defeat in five days. Luis Suarez got one back near the end.
Concern must be growing for” La Celeste” as they have managed to take only one point form three games, two of which were at home.
BOLIVIA 4 – 1 URUGUAY
PARAGUAY 1 – 0 PERU
VENEZUELA 1 -1 ECUADOR
CHILE 1 – 2 ARGENTINA
The COMNEBOL table seems to splitting in 3 parts with Argentina, Ecuador and Colombia moving away slightly form the pack. That being said two positive results can alter qualification chances dramatically and no team is in the clear yet.
Week 9 saw Argentina, Ecuador and Colombia win and move away from the pack. The qualifying group has now split into 3 parts with Chile and Uruguay losing form in the last 3 games.
Messi was at his imperial best against Uruguay. It has often been touted that little Leo does not perform for his country and cannot replicate his Barcelona form. This qualifying campaign, and the recent Brazil friendly largely dispels this myth.
His second goal was particularly impressive. It wasn’t as spectacular as his recent free-kick against Real Madrid but it was the apparent simplicity and ease in his execution to slip the ball low past the keeper.
BOLIVIA 1 (Chumacero 51′) PERU 1 (Marion0 21′)
COLOMBIA 2 (Falcoa 52′, 90′) PARAGUAY 0
ECUADOR 3 (Caicedo 33′,56′, Castillo 93′) CHILE (Paredes OG 25′)
ARGENTINA 3 (Messi 66′,80′ Aguero 75′) URUGUAY 0
In Quito, Ecuador finally broke down a stubborn Chile after initially going behind. A couple of rash challenges had Chile eventually go down to 9 men and Ecuador took full advantage. Their tormentor in chief was Felipe Caicedo who continued his impressive international form and scored his 3rd and 4th goals in 3 games.
Man of the moment Radamel Falcao scored a brace against bottom dwelling Paraguay while in La Paz, Bolivia and Peru recorded 1-1 draw helping neither of their qualification chances.
My best 11 of last Friday’s games: