Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia qualify
Meanwhile, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia qualified for next year’s World Cup on Tuesday after a dramatic last round of South American fixtures that also saw Peru clinch a playoff spot against New Zealand and Chile miss out completely.
Brazil was fortunate enough to escape most of the drama, having already qualified as group winners, but it still had a say in who would join it in Russia next year.
Argentina, a finalist three years ago but outside the four qualifying spots going into its match in Ecuador, fell behind in the first minute, but a Lionel Messi hat-trick guaranteed his side one of the three automatic berths still up for grabs.
“Luckily, we reacted quickly after Ecuador scored,” Messi said after the celebrations in Quito had died down following Argentina’s 3-1 win. “Thank God, we fulfilled our objective.”
Uruguay also went behind at home to Bolivia, to an own=goal from Gaston Silva after 24 minutes, but it forged ahead with two goals in each half to finish second in the 10-team group behind fivetime World Cup winner Brazil.
Martin Caceres, Edinson Cavani and two Luis Suarez strikes gave the home side a commanding lead before Diego Godin’s own-goal completed the scoring in a 4-2 win for the hosts.
A second-half goal from Paolo Guerrero kept Peru in with a chance of a first World Cup appearance since 1982.
Peru, unbeaten in its last six qualifiers under Argentina manager Ricardo Gareca, failed to secure the win that would have ensured automatic qualification, but has the consolation of a home-and-away playoff against Oceania champion New Zealand.
Five-time champion Brazil had already qualified before its game against Chile, but a 3-0 home victory saw the visiting side drop from third to sixth in the standings, failing to even qualify for the inter-continental playoff.
Three second-half goals, one from Paulinho and two from Gabriel Jesus, enabled the group leaders to extend their unbeaten run in the group to 17 games.
The result marks the end of a brilliant run by the Chileans, who won the last two Copa Americas in 2015 and 2016 and qualified for the last two World Cups.
“My soul is destroyed,” Arturo Vidal wrote on social media. “Thanks boys, for everything, for all these years together giving our lives in every game.”
Paraguay also missed out after it lost 1-0 at home to bottom side Venezuela when a victory would have seen it clinch the playoff berth instead of Peru.