SAO PAULO ( Associated Press) — Ecuador and Uruguay have secured their spots at soccer’s World Cup in Qatar.
The third-placed Ecuadorians lost 3-1 at Paraguay on Thursday, but they achieved one of the four direct spots after the Uruguayans, in fourth position, beat Peru 1-0 in Montevideo, a result that also allowed them to book their flights to Qatar.
Ecuador and Uruguay reached 25 points on the table and can no longer be overtaken by other teams. They will vie for the third position in the final round of South American qualifiers.
Brazil and Argentina had already secured two of the region’s direct spots.
Uruguay’s Giorgian de Arrascaeta scored the goal that advanced both his team and Ecuador into the next World Cup in the 42nd minute from close range in a hard-fought match.
It was very different in Ciudad del Este, where Ecuador was no match for Paraguay.
Robert Morales opened the scoring in the ninth minute, Ecuadorian defender Piero Hincapié scored an own goal from long range seconds before the halftime whistle and Miguel Almirón added a third in the 54th minute.
Jordy Caicedo scored for Ecuador from the spot in the 85th minute.
The fifth position, which qualifies for an international playoff against an Asian team, is still up for grabs. Peru, with 21 points, can get it by beating Paraguay at home on Tuesday. Colombia, with 20 after its 3-0 win against Bolivia, needs to beat Venezuela and cheer against the Peruvians.
Chile, with 19 points, will have to overcome Uruguay in Santiago and hope other results go its way. La Roja will not be very confident about that result after being crushed by Brazil 4-0 at the Maracanã Stadium.
Neymar scored from the spot and Vinicius Jr. quickly made it 2-0 in the final minutes of the first half. Philippe Coutinho, also from the spot, and Richarlison scored in the second half for Brazil.
Colombia managed to stay alive with its first goals in almost 700 minutes in South American qualifiers. It beat Bolivia with goals by Luis Diaz in the 39th minute, Miguel Borja in the 72nd and Mateus Uribe shortly before the final whistle.
The remaining match of the penultimate round of South American World Cup qualifiers will be played on Friday, when Argentina takes on Venezuela in Buenos Aires.
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