Three partidazos into match day three and this is how the CONMEBOL table stands:
Our sweet, sweet afternoon of CONMEBOL fútbol started with a cracking 4-2 win for Bolivia over Venezuela in what was perhaps the most boring game of the week on paper. Six goals in one hour and four in the first 50 for the first time in the history of the Bolivian national team?! That’s what I’m talking about.
Rodrigo Ramallo’s first half brace broke La Verde’s scoring drought, and check this – apparently, his pops pulled off an almost identical goal 22 years ago against La Vinotinto! I guess it runs in the family.
Juan Carlos Arce and Rudy Cardozo also found the back of the net for Bolivia, helping to secure “three points that give oxygen” as per coach Julio Baldivieso. After starting its qualifying campaign with two scoreless defeats (last win vs. Ecuador in Copa América), this was just what the home side needed to get back on track.
Bolivia hasn’t reached the World Cup finals since 1994, but that doesn’t mean fans have lost hope. On the contrary:
The second match of the day was an equally exciting 2-1 victory for Ecuador against Uruguay, which even included Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera removing a drone from the pitch mid-match.
Ecuador continued its perfect qualifying start in Quito with a gorgeous team goal finished by Felipe Caicedo, his third in as many matches. What a thing of beauty. Christian Noboa set Juan Carlos Paredes up with a lovely through ball down the right side, and the latter calmly pulled it back to find Caicedo rushing in around the 10-yard line. Just watch for yourself.
Uruguay was fantastic in the second half – it’s hard to imagine the squad not fighting until the very last minute of every single game they compete in – and their efforts culminated in Edinson Cavani drawing level off a Nicolas Lodeiro free kick in the 49th. A perfectly Godin-esque header from the prolific attacker.
Unfortunately, it was too little too late, and Fidel Martínez found the back of the net against the run of play off a Jefferson Montero rebound. A hard fought game all around. For full match highlights, check this video:
Finally, the third and final match of the day was a 1-1 deadlock between Chile and Colombia. An Arturo Vidal header off a curling Matias Fernández free kick made it 1-0 Chile heading into half, but Colombia managed to collect its fourth point in three thanks to this stunner from recently-returned James Rodríguez.
James is a crack, there’s no denying that, but Sampdoria’s Luis Muriel stole the show with speed against a high Chile backline. He raced down the left flank, whipped in a shot, and found his own rebound to get James in for that game-tying goal. And that wasn’t his only stellar contribution to the tie.
The international clásico that we were all waiting for last night between Argentina and Brazil was delayed due to an outrageous rain storm that completely destroyed El Monumental in the hours leading up to kickoff, too.
The good news? It’s been rescheduled for tonight, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. EST ahead of Peru – Paraguay at 9:15. Let’s go.