Edison Flores scored a late goal for Peru to earn a 1-0 away win over Colombia on Friday, boosting their chances of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Half-time substitute Flores struck after 85 minutes to give Peru a priceless victory in Barranquilla. The DC United winger raced on to a through ball and fired a low, angled shot which Colombia keeper David Ospina allowed in at his near post.
The two sides began the game tied on 17 points and though the home side made most of the running, they were hurt by their familiar profligacy in front of goal. Remarkably, Reinaldo Rueda’s side have now failed to score in their last six World Cup qualifiers. Peru had two shots at goal to Colombia’s 20 and their goalkeeper, Pedro Gallese, made some fine saves to keep his team level before Flores struck.
Peru’s third consecutive qualifying win moved them into fourth place in the 10-team table, one point above Uruguay, who beat 10-man Paraguay on Thursday thanks to a Luis Suárez winner. Colombia slip to sixth place; the top four qualify automatically for Qatar with the side in fifth facing a playoff with a team from the Asian qualifiers.
Brazil and Argentina have already booked their places and third-placed Ecuador are well-placed to join them. Peru’s next game is at home to Ecuador on Tuesday, while Colombia are away to Argentina the same night. Bolivia missed the chance to climb above Colombia as they lost 4-1 to the group’s bottom team, Venezuela.
Earlier, Argentina put a major dent in the qualifying hopes of local rivals Chile with a 2-1 away victory in Calama. The visitors rested Lionel Messi but still took the lead through Ángel Di María’s fine curling finish just 10 minutes in. Blackburn’s Ben Brereton Díaz continued his rich vein of form with the hosts’ equaliser as he sent a fine looping header over Emiliano Martínez 10 minutes later.
Argentina got the victory in controversial fashion, taking advantage of an injury to Claudio Bravo 11 minutes before half-time. With the Chile keeper preparing to be substituted, Rodrigo De Paul shot from long range and with Bravo only able to parry the shot, Lautaro Martínez followed up to slot home the rebound.
“Everything is always much easier when Leo is here,” Di María said of his teammate, who is still recovering from Covid-19. The Argentina coach, Lionel Scaloni, also missed the game after testing positive. “Today we were without the best in the world and our coach, but we got the victory and this is also for them,” Di María added.
Iran book World Cup place with win over Iraq
Mehdi Taremi’s close-range winner sealed Iran’s third straight World Cup qualification as they beat neighbours Iraq 1-0 in Tehran. The Porto striker scored from Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s pass early in the second half as the AFC Group A leaders booked their place in Qatar.
Despite the fast spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in Iran, the government allowed 10,000 spectators to attend the match. More than 2,000 were women – in line with Fifa’s demands that Iran allow female spectators to attend World Cup qualifiers. It marked just the second occasion that women have been able to watch a major football match in Iran.