Ecuador pun­ish blun­der­ing Venezuela to notch fourth win

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

PUERTO OR­DAZ: Ecuador ruth­lessly ex­posed Venezuela’s de­fen­sive frail­ties on their way to a 3-1 win which kept them top of the South Amer­i­can World Cup qual­i­fiers with a per­fect record on Tues­day. Jef­fer­son Mon­tero, scorer of the sec­ond goal, was at the heart of Ecuador’s best moves as they pulled the hosts apart to make it four wins in as many games in the sin­gle 10-team group. Venezuela, who have never qual­i­fied for a World Cup, are bot­tom of the ta­ble af­ter los­ing all four games. Af­ter a lively start by the home side, Fidel Martinez had the ball in the net in the 10th minute for Ecuador, but his ef­fort was ruled off­side.

Martinez made no mis­take five min­utes later, how­ever, rac­ing through to drill past goal­keeper Alain Baroja af­ter Venezuela lost pos­ses­sion in mid­field. Ecuador, who fell at the group stage in Brazil last year, struck the knock­out blow in the 23rd when a clear­ance by Baroja, un­der no pres­sure, was in­ter­cepted by Miller Bolanos. Bolanos fed Mon­tero and the pair ex­changed passes be­fore Mon­tero wrong-footed Baroja with a clever dummy and fired into the net.

Venezuela took con­trol in the sec­ond half and cre­ated sev­eral open­ings but ev­ery time they lost the ball, Ecuador, who have al­ready beaten Ar­gentina away, looked like scor­ing. Felipe Caicedo crowned Ecuador’s per­for­mance when he met Mon­tero’s cross with a pow­er­ful, loop­ing header from just in­side the penalty area to score the third on the hour. Wal­ter Ay­ovi was de­nied a fourth when his 35-me­tre free kick crashed against the bar, be­fore Josef Martinez side-footed home to re­duce the ar­rears for Venezuela in the 84th minute. — Reuters

SALVADOR: Brazil’s Dou­glas Costa, right, and Peru’s Paolo Hur­tado fight for the ball dur­ing a 2018 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing soc­cer match in Salvador, Brazil, Tues­day. — AP

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