Ney­mar car­ries the Sele­cao over ri­vals

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

BRAZIL’S march to­ward the 2018 World Cup gath­ered pace on Septem­ber 6 with a Ney­mar-in­spired win over Colom­bia as Uruguay surged to the top of the South Amer­i­can qual­i­fi­ca­tion stand­ings with a 4-0 rout of Paraguay.

Just four days after their first-ever vic­tory over Ecuador in Quito, Brazil dug deep to beat Colom­bia 2-1 in the Ama­zon jun­gle city of Man­aus cour­tesy of Ney­mar’s 74th-minute win­ner.

The re­sult left Brazil – who had started the day out­side the au­to­matic qual­i­fy­ing places – in sec­ond place over­all, just one point be­hind lead­ers Uruguay.

Ar­gentina, who squan­dered the op­por­tu­nity to main­tain their lead after a 2-2 draw away to Venezuela, are third, trail­ing Brazil on goal dif­fer­ence with the two heavy­weight ri­vals level on 15 points.

Brazil’s win over Colom­bia was the lat­est in a se­ries of phys­i­cal en­coun­ters between the two teams, who have skir­mished reg­u­larly since the 2014 World Cup quar­ter-fi­nals – a match that saw Ney­mar exit with a tour­na­ment-end­ing in­jury.

Ney­mar, who was sent off against Colom­bia in a bruis­ing Copa Amer­ica bat­tle in 2015, ex­acted his re­venge with a sweetly struck low shot to de­cide this week’s game.

It com­pleted a mem­o­rable few weeks for the Barcelona su­per­star, who last month scored the win­ning penalty to give Brazil their first-ever Olympic foot­ball gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Ney­mar’s Barcelona team­mate Luis Suarez mean­while was in sim­i­larly sparkling form for Uruguay in their 4-0 thrash­ing of Paraguay.

Paraguay had en­tered the match in Mon­te­v­ideo op­ti­mistic of an up­set fol­low­ing their win over Copa Amer­ica cham­pi­ons Chile last week.

But a mag­nif­i­cent in­di­vid­ual per­for­mance from Suarez – who laid on two goals for Edin­son Ca­vani be­fore scor­ing one him­self from the penalty spot – left Paraguay re­flect­ing on a hum­bling de­feat. Cris­tian Ro­driguez scored the other goal for the Uruguayans.

The vic­tory – and the per­for­mance of Suarez and Ca­vani – prompted Uruguay’s of­ten stony-faced coach Os­car Tabarez to per­mit him­self a smile.

“We have world-class strik­ers,” Tabarez said. “Some­times they win by pres­ence, not nec­es­sar­ily be­cause they’ve played well. We are sat­is­fied be­cause the team played well.”

Venezuela came within seven min­utes of pulling off the up­set of the day in their rain-lashed scrap with Ar­gentina in Merida.

Ar­gentina, miss­ing in­jured cap­tain Lionel Messi and a galaxy of at­tack­ing tal­ent in­clud­ing Ser­gio Aguero, Gon­zalo Higuain and Paulo Dy­bala, needed an 83rd-minute equaliser from Ni­co­las Ota­mendi to sal­vage a 2-2 draw.

Ota­mendi’s late strike – turn­ing in an An­gel Di Maria cor­ner – com­pleted a gutsy fight back from the Ar­gen­tines, who had trailed 2-0 shortly after half­time fol­low­ing Venezue­lan goals from Malaga’s Juanpi Anor and Torino’s Josef Martinez.

Ar­gentina coach Edgardo Bauza praised his side’s courage after fight­ing back from 2-0.

“We wanted to win but we found our­selves los­ing 2-0,” Bauza said. “I take com­fort from the way that the play­ers re­sponded when they con­ceded those two goals,” he added.

But while Brazil, Uruguay and Ar­gentina were left head­ing the ta­ble, Chile were still strug­gling for an­swers after a 0-0 draw with Bo­livia in Santiago.

The Chileans have been the form team in South Amer­ica over the past two years, win­ning the 2015 Copa Amer­ica and this year’s Cen­te­nary edi­tion in the United States.

Yet their stale­mate with Bo­livia leaves them sev­enth over­all with 11 points from eight game.

Ecuador mean­while, the early pace­set­ters in qual­i­fy­ing with four wins in their open­ing four games, have slipped to fifth place after a 2-1 de­feat in Lima against Peru. –

Photo: AFP

Ney­mar boots one on net dur­ing Brazil’s 2-1 vic­tory over Colom­bia on Septem­ber 6.

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