With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar approaching faster than one may think, countries across the world compete for their place to be in the biggest (and greatest) spotlight in any sport. However, the South American confederation, or CONMEBOL, holds arguably the most competitive nations for the beautiful game as everyone wants to qualify. While there were really good games on Tuesday, some were bad for certain countries and others were downright ugly.
The Good: Ecuador 4-2 Uruguay
The Ecuador national team arguably pulled an upset against Uruguay. In the 15th minute, La Tricolor scored their first goal. From a corner kick taken by Ángel Mena, he made a short pass to Romario Ibarra who passed the ball right back. Despite the angle of the shot being narrow, Mena took a chance, and with the header of Moises Caicedo, the ball went in the bottom left corner of the net.
Ecuador would’ve had a second goal in the 34th minute from Michael Estrada, but before receiving the ball from Enner Valencia, Valencia’s arm had touched the ball in the build-up and VAR ruled it out. This would be no issue for the Ecuadorians, as they would make up for it at the death of the first half. After a slow build-up, Ángel Mena passed to Valencia to make a run in the penalty area. Valencia lobbed the ball back but was intercepted by a Uruguayan defender. The clearance was poor however, and Michael Estrada ripped a shot into the net.
Ecuador’s third goal came in the 52nd minute, with Estrada securing his brace. Ecuador went on a short attack from a goal kick, with a beautiful backheel pass from Enner Valencia. Estrada took a shot with his right foot and put the ball in the left side of the goal. La Tri’s final goal came at the 75th minute from Gonzalo Plata. One of Uruguay’s defenders had poor control of the ball and lost possession, and Ecuador went on the attack. After numerous short passes from Ecuador, Alan Franco passed outside the contested area to Plata who shot from the near post to the far post.
Uruguay’s two goals didn’t come until the end of the game, both from Luis Suárez. The first in the 84th minute from a penalty, and the second five minutes into extra time also from a penalty.
The Bad: Chile 2-2 Colombia
The Chileans conceded a goal in the seventh minute due to poor defending. With Stefan Medina on the right side, Chile’s defense left Jefferson Lerma wide open on the opposite side. Medina switched the field and would head the ball into the net. La Roja did make up for their error as they scored twice before the end of the first half. The first came in the 38th minute where Arturo Vidal won a penalty kick and scored. The second goal came two minutes later after poor defending from Los Cafeteros. The ball was crossed in by Mauricio Isla, but there was a poor attempt from Chile to shoot and a much poorer clearance from Colombia. Colombian goalkeeper Camilo Vargas came off his line to get the ball but had no luck, and Alexis Sanchez took the ball and scored.
Chile had the lead for the longest time, and nearly won the game, until a goal from Radamel Falcao in the 91st minute made the game leveled. Colombia pressed Chile in their final third of the pitch where their first attempt came from Jefferson Lerma but was blocked by his own teammate. It worked in their favor, however, as the deflected ball rolled to Johan Mojica and took a shot where Falcao added the final touch and scored.
The Ugly: Brazil 4-2 Peru
Where do I even begin with this one?
Peru struck first in the fifth minute from Andre Carrillo. Pedro Aquino had control of the ball and tried to pass up front to his teammate but was cleared by a Brazilian defender. However, as the ball stayed in the air, Carrillo ran towards it and shot off the volley and into the back of the net. Brazil would respond a bit later, in the 28th minute, after Neymar received a penalty and scored.
In the second half, La Blanquirroja would see themselves in the lead once again. In the 59th minute, Peru were given a throw-in, during which Yoshimar Yotún threw the ball into the penalty area. Despite it being cleared out, Renato Tapia regained possession for Peru and took a shot from distance. Brazil’s keeper went one way, but the ball ended up deflecting off a Brazilian player and went the other way. In response, Brazil made the game leveled once more, this time from Richarlison. Neymar took a corner kick that went toward the far post and found Roberto Firmino’s header. Even though the ball was going in, Richarlison put the ball to rest and scored.
Brazil’s final two goals came in the 83rd and 94th minute, both from Neymar to secure his hat trick. The third was after being awarded a penalty, and the fourth after a rebound from Everton’s shot.
As a Peruvian, I have to say this game was absolute bullcrap. Yes, Peru had a questionable defense, but the referee was in complete favor of Brazil. If there’s one thing you should know, it’s that Peruvians and Chileans are rivals; and of course, the ref was Chilean. VAR was never called once for Peru when there were numerous times it should’ve, but instead it was only used for Brazil to gain advantage. Lastly, it doesn’t help that Brazil are heavily criticized for being a team that constantly dives, especially a certain PSG superstar. Factor in a biased referee, and it was certain that Peru wouldn’t finish the game with three points.