CONMEBOL World Cup 2014 Qualifying, Matchday 4: Argentina, Chile And Ecuador Pick Up Wins

Eight teams are in action in CONMEBOL World Cup 2014 qualifying on Tuesday, with Uruguay having the matchday off.

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Colombia Vs. Argentina, CONMEBOL World Cup 2014 Qualifying: Nervy Argentina Earn 2-1 Win

Alejandro Sabella got his lineup horribly wrong against Colombia and Argentina nearly paid the price for his folloy after going down 1-0 in a miserable first half that was mostly characterised by the insanely negative play of the visitors' three defensive midfielders. Fortunately for Argentina, the mistake was rectified with the introduction of Sergio Aguero after the break, and the substitute would go on to earn the winner in what ended up being a deserved 2-1 victory.

For much of the match, it looked as though we were set for a scoreless draw. Argentina had Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain up front, but their link player between the two superstar forwards and their incredibly stodgy midfield was Jose Soa, who is terrible. Needless to say, that didn't go very well. Meanwhile, Colombia were having trouble breaking through the mass of defensively-minded players in the centre, and didn't much look like scoring either.

Then Dorlan Pabon struck with a free kick from the edge of the box which was driven low and deflected past Sergio Romero for the game's opening goal. It was 1-0 Colombia, and Sabella hit the panic button. Fortunately, his bench probably had more talent on it than his non-Messi starting lineup - the coach could draw from Aguero, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Fernando Gago, Nicolas Gaitan and Javier Pastore, and the former was deployed in place of Pablo Guinazu, one of the aforementioned defensive trio.

Aguero's introduction made a big difference. Argentina started to look like a good team, and within fifteen minutes Messi had drawn them level after good work between him and Aguero on the left and then an error by Daniel Ospina to allow the Barcelona star a tap-in. Despite being pegged back, Colombia were still very much in the game and they should have reestablished their lead after Juan Zuniga skipped through the entire Argentina defence only to blast straight at Romero from six yards.

The final twist in the tale, however, favoured the visitors, and when Ospina couldn't handle Higuain's 81st minute shot, the ball fell to Aguero to slip home and give Argentina the lead. There was still time for Messi to miss a one on one and then an open goal (the latter from an impossibly tight angle) and for Aguero to be hit in the face by a plastic bottle thrown fromt he stands, but when the dust cleared it was Argentina who walked away with an important win.

Hopefully Sabella learned something from what happened to the team he initially put out there.


Ecuador Vs. Peru, CONMEBOL World Cup 2014 Qualifying: Full Time, Chucho Benitez Guides Ecuador To Victory

Ecuador have added three points to their tally in CONMEBOL World Cup 2014 qualifying, defeating Peru by a final score of 2-0 at home. Both teams played to keep a clean sheet, refusing to commit bodies forward and playing almost exclusively on the counter, but Ecuador were able to find the quality to manufacture a goal. Club America star 'Chucho' Christian Benitez set up the chance with a brilliant assist, with Edison Mendez tapping it in for the winner. He then added another goal of his own to seal the win late.

Very few chances came in the first half and in the opening minutes of the second half. Ecuador looked the more dangerous side, though, and Peru decided to shut up shop. Claudio Pizarro was removed in a tactical move in the 62nd minute, while an injury forced Schalke star Jefferson Farfan out of the game in the 67th.

The winner would come in the 69th, and it was all about the assist. Picking the ball up at halfway, Chucho turned and ran through four Peru defenders before passing off the ball to Mendez at the top of the 18-yard box. Raul Fernandez stepped up to close down Chucho and was caught completely out of position, leaving Ecuador with a simple finish.

Benitez would add a goal of his own in the 88th minute, cementing what was already a clear man of the match performance. Club America supporters might thing he was a waste of money, costing a massive $10 million, but Chucho's never been anything but class.

We'll have live coverage of this and every match in our CONMEBOL World Cup 2014 Qualifying, Matchday 4 StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, check out SB Nation Soccer.


Colombia Vs. Argentina Live, CONMEBOL World Cup 2014 Qualifying: Lionel Messi Draws Visitors Level

We're more than an hour into the match between Colombia and Argentina now, and the visitors are finally level through the much-maligned (for the national team, at least) Lionel Messi, who created and finished the chance with a big helping hand from David Ospina.

The Barcelona forward had the ball in the centre, with most of the Colombia team in his way, so he skipped past a tackle, pushed the ball wide left to Sergio Aguero (who came in at halftime for Pablo Guinazu) and was on hand to notch a simple tap-in when the eventual cross was spilled by Ospina. Admittedly, one of his own defenders had landed on the Nice goalie, which partially excuses it, but still.

Anyway, that's Argentia level at 1-1 - turns out they're better with Sergio Aguero on the pitch. Now if only they'd yank Jose Sosa for, say, Javier Pastore, they might even look like a better team than Colombia.


Colombia Vs. Argentina Live, CONMEBOL World Cup 2014 Qualifying: Dorlan Pabon Has Colombia 1-0 Up At Halftime

Colombia have seized the lead against Argentina on the verge of halftime and it would be difficult to argue that it wasn't deserved. Pablo Zabaleta conceded a dangerous free kick when he fould Parto's James Rodriguez about 30 yards out int he left channel, and then the hosts scored when Dorlan Pabon's free kick took a huge deflection and wrong-footed Sergio Romero in Argentina's net.

That goal was virtually the last action of a half which frankly hasn't been very good. Argentina might boast some amazing talent (the have Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain on the pitch, for goodness sake), but the team they're fielding right now just doesn't work, and Colombia have always looked like good bets to make their visitors pay for their very weak lineup. Apart from the goal, the most notable moment of the first half was when Nicolas Burdisso fouled James and injured himself in the process forcing the Roma defender out on a stretcher (it looked pretty ugly) and Argentina into an early substitution. It's 1-0 in Barranquilla.


Colombia Vs. Argentina, CONMEBOL World Cup 2014 Qualifying: Lineups

So I'm reasonably sure the Argentina lineup is not a joke. Well, not a deliberate one anyway, since they've come from a solid source, but it would be impossible to characterise any team that fields Jose Ernesto Sosa as a trequartista ahead of Javier Pastore as anything but hilarious. Essentially, the team is Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi and a bunch of players who a second-choice European players or based on South America.

It's a highly experimental lineup, and one which would make total sense if this were a friendly. However, this is a World Cup qualifying match and Argentina are playing Colombia away. I have no idea who Pablo Guinazu is. This lineup is either brilliant or the result of someone being high. Or both.

Colombia (4-4-2): David Ospina; Juan Zuniga, Aquivaldo Mosquera, Mario Yepes, Pablo Armero; Dorlan Pabon, Abel Aguilar, Gustavo Bolivar, James Rodriguez; Adrian Ramos, Jackson Martinez.

Argentina (4-3-1-2): Sergio Romero; Pablo Zabaleta, Federico Fernandez, Nicolas Burdisso, Clemente Rodriguez; Javier Mascherano, Rodrigo Brana, Pablo Guinazu; Jose Ernesto Sosa; Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain.


Ecuador Vs. Peru, CONMEBOL World Cup 2014 Qualifying: The Battle Of The Unknown Quantities

Ecuador and Peru are wild card teams, very much on the bubble for World Cup qualification. Three points could be massive for either team on Tuesday.

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