Argentina, Brazil bounce back but Ecuador still lead

MONTEVIDEO • Argentina and Brazil reignited their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaigns with important victories on Tuesday, as Copa America champions Chile crashed to defeat in their grudge match with Uruguay.

Two-time World Cup winners Argentina - who had taken just two points from their first three matches - claimed their first win, downing Colombia 1-0 in Barranquilla thanks to a first-half goal from Lucas Biglia.

Brazil produced their best performance of the qualifying campaign to date with a 3-0 defeat of Peru in Salvador.

Bayern Munich star Douglas Costa scored one goal and created two others, as Brazil swept aside the challenge of the Copa America semi-finalists.

In Montevideo, Uruguay gained revenge for their stormy Copa America quarter-final defeat by Chile earlier this year with a 3-0 win.

The victory pushed Uruguay up to second place in the standings with nine points from four games, three points adrift of surprise early pacesetters Ecuador, who made it four wins out of four on Tuesday with a 3-1 win over Venezuela.

Brazil's victory over Peru left them in third place with seven points, ahead of Paraguay, who defeated Bolivia 2-1 in Asuncion, and Chile on goal difference.

Argentina's win in Colombia lifted them to sixth, just outside the top five qualifying spots. But the Argentines will feel confident that they can mount a charge back up the table when qualifiers resume in March, when injured stars Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez should all be fit and available once more.

The pressure on coach Gerardo Martino was eased by Biglia's 19th-minute goal, the Lazio midfielder tapping in after Cristian Zapata failed to deal with Ezequiel Lavezzi's low cross.

"We deserved to win, it is fair. We could have scored another goal," said Martino, who said his happiness was more for his players than for himself.

Five-time world champions Brazil had a virtuoso performance from Costa to thank for their win.

The Bayern star opened the scoring with a tap-in on 22 minutes from Willian's low cross and then turned provider with a jinking run and pass for Renato Augusto for the second on 57 minutes.

Brazil's third came when Costa's fierce strike was parried away by Peru goalkeeper Diego Penny, leaving a simple finish for Atletico Madrid left-back Filipe Luis on the rebound.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2015, with the headline 'Argentina, Brazil bounce back but Ecuador still lead'. Print Edition | Subscribe