Suarez strikes to hold Brazil

Uruguay's captain for the day, back from ban, gives his side away point in qualifying

SAO PAULO • Luis Suarez scored on his return from a worldwide ban for biting as Uruguay fought back from two goals down to grab a 2-2 draw with Brazil in a pulsating 2018 World Cup qualifier on Friday.

The Barcelona striker, playing his first international since infamously chomping on Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup, struck in the 48th minute to complete a remarkable Uruguayan fightback.

Uruguay had looked to be sliding to a heavy defeat after Brazil went 2-0 up inside the first half hour, thanks to goals from Bayern Munich forward Douglas Costa and Renato Augusto.

But Edinson Cavani pulled a goal back for Uruguay to allow Suarez, installed as captain by coach Oscar Tabarez, his moment of glory at the Arena Pernambuco.

The draw left Uruguay in second place in the South American standings, three points behind leaders Ecuador with 10 points from five games. Brazil moved up to third, level on eight points with Argentina and Paraguay but ahead on goal difference.

The top four teams qualify for Russia 2018 and the fifth-placed side goes into an intercontinental play-off.

Brazil took the lead in the opening minute with a well-worked goal created by Chelsea winger Willian. The 27-year-old teased and tormented Sebastian Coates on the right flank before floating a cross to Costa, who delicately steered home the finish.

However, Brazil had to wait until the 26th minute to grab their second, which arrived after more sorcery from Neymar. The Brazilian captain split Uruguay's defence with a wonderful pass that Alvaro Pereira could only deflect into the path of Augusto.

The Beijing Guoan midfielder pulled off a dummy to wrong-foot the advancing Fernando Muslera before firing high into the net to give the Selecao a 2-0 lead.

But Uruguay came roaring back to score with their first attack of the game and what turned out to be their only attack of the half.

Pereira advanced down the left flank and crossed to Carlos Sanchez at the far post, who knocked the ball down into the path of Paris Saint-Germain star Cavani who lashed in a perfectly-timed volley to make it 2-1.

In the opening minutes of the second half, Pereira released Suarez, and the striker drilled a low shot that the advancing Brazil goalkeeper Alisson could not grasp.

"As always, we showed character," the Barcelona striker said after the game.

Augusto was disappointed that Brazil failed to win. He said: "I think that when we were winning 2-0 we had the game in the hand but we let them get back in the game.

"And when they scored they closed us down and played on the counter-attack. Our big mistake was conceding the first goal," he added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 27, 2016, with the headline 'SUAREZ STRIKES TO HOLD BRAZIL'. Print Edition | Subscribe