Saturday, December 9, 2023

World Cup qualifiers: China, Bolivia, Columbia and Uruguay register wins

China registered a morale-boosting victory as it came from behind to beat Thailand 2-1 in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers Round 2 here on Thursday.

Without key defender Jiang Guangtai, Chinese head coach Aleksandar Jankovic opted for Zhu Chenjie and Jiang Shenglong at the back-line, while Wu Lei led the trident upfront with Wu Xi pulling the string in the midfield, reports Xinhua.

Suphanat Mueanta’s strike in the 5th minute was too weak to surprise China’s goalkeeper Yan Junling, while at the other end Jiang’s effort was wide of the post.
The host broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute through a counterattack, as Suphanat’s attempt was denied by Yan, but he collected the loose ball and squared for Supachok Sarachat who laid it off for Sarach Yooyen to volley home.

- Advertisement -

China quickly got back on level terms minutes later as Wei Shihao charged forward and rolled across for Wu Lei to slide it in at the back post.

However, Wu Lei should have bagged a brace before the interval, as Wei sent him through, but he only saw his solo effort go wide. Sarach’e twisting header was denied by Yan minutes after the break, and China completed the turnaround in the 74th minute with a combination of two substitutes as Xie Pengfei’s lobbing pass found unmarked Wang Shangyuan who finished with a diving header undisturbed.

In a desperate bid to avoid a home defeat, Thailand poured forward in the dying minutes, but was still toothless to get back into it. In an earlier fixture on Thursday, South Korea crushed Singapore 5-0. China will host South Korea on November 21.

Bolivia clinch first win of 2026 WC qualifiers
Henry and Ramiro Vaca scored either side of halftime as Bolivia eased to a 2-0 home win over Peru in their FIFA World Cup qualifier here on Thursday.

Henry opened the scoring in the 20th minute when he combined with Marcelo Moreno before rifling a left-footed shot from distance into the far corner, reports Xinhua.

Ramiro doubled the advantage by receiving Jaime Arrascaita’s pass and taking a steadying touch before beating goalkeeper Pedro Gallese with a powerful shot from outside the 18-yard box. The result marked Bolivia’s first win of the campaign and left Peru as the only side in the group without a victory.

“We’ve taken the first important step by winning this match,” Ramiro told reporters after the match. “We were under a lot of pressure after a bad run of results and hopefully we now have something that we can build upon in the next few matches.”
Earlier on Thursday, Ecuador held Venezuela to a goalless draw in their qualifier in Maturin.

Diaz inspires Colombia to emotional win over Brazil
Luis Diaz inspired Colombia to victory over Brazil on an emotional night as his father watched from the stands after being released by his kidnappers.
The Liverpool forward scored twice in five second-half minutes to complete a surprise Colombia comeback in the 2026 World Cup qualifier in Barranquilla.

He was reunited with his father, Luis Manuel Diaz, on Tuesday after rebels had held him hostage for 12 days. Diaz was surrounded by team-mates and staff following his first goal. The 26-year-old pointed to the crowd after his 75th-minute equaliser and television cameras showed his teary-eyed father, wearing a Colombia shirt, celebrating with his arms raised.

Bolivian players celebrate scoring during their 2026 FIFA WC South American qualification match against Peru.

Diaz said he had experienced “hard moments” over recent weeks but added: “Life makes you strong and brave and I think that’s football, and not just football but life.
“I’m grateful to my team-mates, to the coaching staff who were always there for me at every moment,” he said. “And I dedicate the victory to the people, who deserved it.”
Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli had given favourites Brazil a fourth-minute lead before they lost Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr to injury later in the first half.

But Diaz’s quick-fire double secured an important win which lifted hosts Colombia above their opponents and up to third in the South American standings. It came just two days after he was reunited with his father, who was freed by Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group after being kidnapped in his home town of Barrancas on 28 October.
Diaz’s mother, Cilenis Marulanda, was also taken but was rescued a few hours later, and a massive search operation was launched for her 58-year-old husband.

Messi’s Argentina loses 0-2 to Uruguay
The Lionel Messi-led Argentina lost to Uruguay 2-0 in the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers at the Bombonera stadium thanks to goals from Ronald Araujo and Darwin Nunez in each half.

Uruguay was superior from beginning to end and, with the victory, moved up to second place in the standings with 10 points, two points behind leaders Argentina who have lost their first point after winning first four games. Uruguay was aggressive from the start against the World Cup champions. Darwin Núnez nearly opened the scoring with a crossed shot in the 10th minute after a mistake by defender Nicolás Otamendi.

Argentina hadn’t lost a competitive match since its group-stage opener against Saudi Arabia during last year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Thiss was the first time Argentina conceded a goal after FIFA World Cup 2022 finals win.
Núnez scored in the 87th minute on a counter after the Uruguayan defense stopped Messi at the edge of its box.

Uruguay’s Ronald Araujo, left, celebrates with teammates scoring the opening goal against Argentina with teammates.

Argentina still leads the 10-team South American qualifying group with 12 points from five matches. Uruguay is second with 10 points. Colombia has nine and Venezuela eight.
Brazil will host the World Cup champions at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro in fifth position, with seven points.

“We never felt comfortable in this match,” Messi said. “Uruguay is a physical team, they have good teamwork. It is always like that against them.” Messi’s close friend Luis Suárez, who just returned to the Uruguayan national team, did not play.

In the previous round of World Cup qualifying, Uruguay beat Brazil by the same score in Montevideo. Its next match will be against Bolivia.



Most Popular