x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Paraguay nearing finals spot

Paraguay edged closer to sealing their place at next year's World Cup finals after beating Bolivia on Saturday, bringing them level on points with Chile who blew the chance to join Brazil in automatic qualification after being held to a draw at home to Venezuela.

Paraguay edged closer to sealing their place at next year's World Cup finals after beating Bolivia on Saturday, bringing them level on points with Chile who blew the chance to join Brazil in automatic qualification after being held to a draw at home to Venezuela. Rodrigo Millar spared Chile's blushes as the match finished 2-2, while Paraguay's 1-0 win over Bolivia courtesy of a Salvador Cabanas penalty means they can book their ticket to South Africa on Wednesday should they beat Argentina in Asuncion.

The Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa, whose side are second behind Brazil, found it hard to take any positives from his side's draw. "Those were two points lost," said the Argentinian. Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino, who will prepare to inflict further misery on Argentina, his country of birth, was delighted with the three points. "There's no doubt this was the match to win... Everything we manage to add from now on will surely mean we achieve our goal," said Martino.

Colombia revived their hopes of a first World Cup appearance since 1998 by scoring twice in the last 10 minutes to beat neighbours Ecuador 2-0 on Saturday which means four points separate five teams in the scramble for fourth spot. Ecuador played most of the second half with 10 men after striker Pablo Palacios, booked just before half-time for a clash which saw Colombian midfielder Fabian Vargas taken off injured, was given another yellow diving in the 48th minute.

Colombia made their numerical advantage count with goals from Jackson Martinez and Teofilo Gutierrez and are now level on 20 points with Ecuador in fifth place, two behind Argentina. Uruguay, who lost 1-0 to bottom side Peru, and Venezuela are both on 18 points. sluckings@thenational.ae * With agencies