With the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil less than 3 years away, qualifiers have already kicked off in Africa (CAF), Asia (AFC) and Central/Northern America (Concacaf). Oceania and Europe are yet to start while Southern America began on October 7th.
Despite Brazil automatically being qualified as a host nation, CONMEBOL didn't change the way its qualifiers would be set up. All nine participating nations play a home and away fixture to determine the 4.5 spots the region would receive.
The top four automatically qualify while the fifth place nation would play an intercontinental playoff against the AFC fifth place finisher for a spot in the prestigious tournament.
Here's a recap of the first two match days.
Match Day 1 (October 7th)
Uruguay 4, Bolivia 2—After winning the 2011 edition of the Copa America, Uruguay continued its stellar play with a dominating victory to start their qualification campaign. Diego Lugano scored twice for the hosts after Luis Suarez scored in the third minute to get started. 21-year-old Rudy Cardoza was able to pull the game even in the 17th minute before Uruguay scored the next three. The visitors got a consolation spot kick in the 84th minute.
Ecuador 2, Venezuela 0—After an abysmal showing at the Copa America, Ecuador started its campaign with a home game against the fourth place team from the same tournament. Results from earlier in the year mattered little, as the hosts took away a 2-0 victory behind goals from Jamie Ayovi and Christian Benitez.
Argentina 4, Chile 1—This was a disappointing result for the host Argentinian side. They were eliminated in the quarter finals despite a hat trick from Gonzalo Higuain and another tally from Lionel Messi. Matias Fernandez got one back for the visitors.
Peru 2, Paraguay 0—These are two nations that made deep runs the Copa America. Peru finished third while Paraguay lost in the finals to Uruguay, making this a highly anticipated opening fixture. Jose Paolo Guerrero had his own take on the game, helping the Peruvian side to a shutout victory and a great start to the campaign.
Match Day 2 (October 11th)
Bolivia 1, Colombia 2—As a result of Brazil automatically qualifying, Colombia was idle during the first match day. They were able to score a late victory to give themselves three points after one match, knocking Bolivia down to zero points in two attempts. Dorlan Pabon scored for the visitors just after the halftime intermission but Walter Flores decided to get his first goal for his nation to pull even in the 85th minute. Radamel Falcoa of Atletico Madrid in Spain scored in stoppage time to break the tie. Those two points could prove vital deep down the line.
Chile 4, Peru 2—After allowing four goals to the Argentinian side, Chile hosted a Peruvian side that was coming off a victory. Scoring two minutes into the match and once again at the 18th minute, the Chileans took a 2-0 lead into the intermission. In the first four minutes of the second half, Chile was able to add another one, but not before Peru cut the deficit back to two within a minute. Behind Jefferson Farfan, Peru was able to cut the deficit to just one, but Humberto Suazo converted a spot kick for the host side as Chile got its first points of the campaign.
Paraguay 1, Uruguay 1—In a rematch of the Copa America finals, Uruguay had a 1-0 lead going into stoppage time behind a goal from Diego Forlan. Richard Ortiz had different plans as he scored with very little time on the extra time watch in his debut for his nation.
Venezuela 1, Argentina 0—Argentina was coming off a dominating 4-1 victory over Chile at home while the Venezuelans had dropped a 2-0 decision in Ecuador. Argentina also projected to finish top-two in the table alongside Uruguay while Venezuela is a middle of the pack club. Fernando Amorebieta, in only his second cap (ironically, the first was a 1-0 loss to Argentina), was able to get one into the Argentinian net in the 62nd minute to give the home team the win.
After two days of fixtures, the home nation has only lost on one occasion with one draw and six victories. Ecuador and Colombia are the two nations who have only played one match while Uruguay and Peru will play once in November.
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