Football: Edinson Cavani's brace helps Uruguay down Venezuela in World Cup qualifier

Uruguay's Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring against Venezuela during their Russia 2018 World Cup football qualifier match in Montevideo, on Oct 6, 2016.
Uruguay's Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring against Venezuela during their Russia 2018 World Cup football qualifier match in Montevideo, on Oct 6, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

MONTEVIDEO (AFP) - Edinson Cavani maintained his superb start to the season with two goals as Uruguay extended their lead at the top of South America's 2018 World Cup qualification tournament on Thursday with a 3-0 win over Venezuela.

Cavani, who has been in sensational form for club and country, struck twice in the second half after Nicolas Lodeiro had headed Uruguay into the lead midway through the first half.

Paris Saint-Germain star Cavani has now scored four goals in his last two World Cup qualifying games for Uruguay, with seven in total during the campaign. The 29-year-old has also bagged 10 goals in all competitions for PSG this year.

Uruguay's win left them three points clear of second-placed Ecuador, who defeated Chile 3-0 earlier Thursday in Quito.

Seattle Sounders midfielder Lodeiro scored the opening goal on 29 minutes, diving to meet a hanging cross from Barcelona star Luis Suarez with a powerful low header from just inside the area.

Cavani made it 2-0 to Uruguay just after half-time, latching onto a speculative pass forward to lash home an unstoppable shot.

It got worse for Venezuela midway through the second half when Oswaldo Vizcarrondo received his marching orders after clashing with Suarez in a clumsy challenge on the edge of the area.

Carlos Sanchez played a ball behind the Venezuela defence and as Suarez darted forward to meet it, Vizcarrondo bundled him over to earn a second yellow card and a dismissal.

Cavani then applied the coup de grace in the 79th minute as Uruguay broke quickly, slamming home a deft flick from Suarez to make it 3-0.

The defeat leaves Venezuela still looking for their first win after nine matches of the marathon qualifying tournament.

The Venezuelans are bottom of the 10-team round-robin group with only two points.