Radamel Falcao scored a second-half header to salvage a 1-1 draw for Colombia against group leader Brazil, earning an important point in qualification for next year’s World Cup.
The draw on Tuesday in Barranquilla, Colombia, ended a nine-game winning streak for Brazil coach Tite, who had been perfect in qualifying matches since he took over a year ago. Willian scored for Brazil in first-half stoppage time.
In other matches in South America: Bolivia edged Chile 1-0, Peru beat Ecuador 2-1, Venezuela drew 1-1 at Argentina, and Uruguay defeated Paraguay 2-1. Brazil has already qualified for the World Cup with 37 points from 16 matches.
The other three automatic spots are still up for grabs going into the final two rounds next month. It’s also possible a fourth berth could be gained in an intercontinental playoff.
Excluding Brazil, only seven points separate the next seven countries in the race to Russia. Falcao’s equalizer came in the 56th on a bouncing header and could become decisive in the standings.
Willian scored a spectacular goal in first-half injury time. Taking a touch from Neymar, he drove a right-foot shot into the corner as Colombia keeper David Ospina leaped to his left and came up short. Colombia improved to 26 points.
MORE SCORING PROBLEMS
Argentina was lucky to get a 1-1 draw against Venezuela in Buenos Aires. After failing to score in its last two qualifiers, Argentina scored in this one _ but only via to an own-goal from Venezuela’s Rolf Feltscher in the 53rd minute. John Murillo scored for Venezuela three minutes earlier.
Argentina improved to 24 points and Venezuela, which has no chance to advance to Russia, has only 8 points.
New coach Jorge Sampaoli was supposed to bring and attacking mentality to Argentina. He drew 0-0 last week against Uruguay and now has sputtered against the weakest team in the region.
URUGUAY EDGES UP
Uruguay won 2-1 at Paraguay and moved into the No. 2 spot in qualifying behind Brazil. Federico Valverde scored late in the second half, and then Paraguay’s Gustavo Gomez added an own-goal. Angel Romero scored late for Paraguay to keep it interesting. Uruguay has 27 points, one ahead of Colombia. Paraguay stayed on 21.
BOLIVIA UPENDS CHILE
Bolivia’s Juan Arce converted a penalty in the 58th to beat Chile 1-0. The loss is a huge setback to Chile, which has won the last two continental championships known as the Copa America.
As with most teams, Chile struggled in the thin air at 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) in La Paz. Chile has 23 points from 16 matches. Bolivia has only 13 and will not qualify for Russia.
Peru beat Ecuador 2-1 in the thin air of Quito to put itself in real contention for a World Cup spot. Peru improved to 24 points and Ecuador stayed on 20 with its hopes fading.
Edison Flores scored in the 72nd and Paolo Hurtado doubled the lead just three minutes later. Enner Valancia scored in the 79th for Ecuador.