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All three of Barça’s North and South American players featured in World Cup qualifiers on Thursday, curiously enough all playing in the same right back position. The two teams that most needed the points got all three, while the already qualified Brazil drew 1-1 in an incident-packed encounter with Ecuador.
USA 1-0 El Savador
Sergiño Dest played all ninety minutes at right back in the USMNT’s game with El Salvador in Columbus, Ohio. It wasn’t the best of performances from the US in freezing cold temperatures, but they edged it 1-0 thanks to an Antonee Robinson goal on 59 minutes, spectacular somersaulting celebration included. It means the US stay second in the Concacaf table, and could go top if they win their next game away to leaders Canada.
Paraguay 0-1 Uruguay
In Conmebol, there was a 1-0 win for Uruguay as well, with Ronald Araujo playing all ninety minutes in Diego Alonso’s first game in charge. With Diego Godín and José María Giménez holding onto their centre back roles, the Barça man was instead used on right of defence in the match away to Paraguay, which was decided by a goal from former Barça man Luis Suárez on 50 minutes.
Araujo's excellent performance suggests he’s in the side to stay under the new head coach.
Boosted by Chile’s defeat at home to Argentina, the win means Uruguay move up to the all-important fourth place in the table, although either Colombia or Peru could move back above them after their meeting on Friday.
Ecuador 1-1 Brazil
Meanwhile, at altitude in Quito, Dani Alves and Brazil drew 1-1 with Ecuador in one of the most bizarre games we’ve seen in the whole Qatar 2022 qualifying campaign. Alves started on the bench but came on for former Barça team-mate Philippe Coutinho after 32 minutes, by which time the game was already being played ten versus ten after both Ecuador keeper Alexander Dominguez and Brazil’s Emerson Royal had been red carded.
Brazil, already safely through to Qatar 2022, had taken an early lead thanks to a Casemiro goal, and Alves was loving his comeback for his country with several dangerous cutting moves down the right.
Ecuador, themselves within touching distance of World Cup qualifying, battled long and hard in a very physical game, but were thwarted time and again by VAR decisions. Not only did they have two penalties overruled from the video room, but Brazil keeper Alisson was not once but twice shown the red card only to get a reprieve. Brazil’s undefeated remained intact, but Ecuador managed to salvage a point when Felix Torres headed in with a quarter of an hour to go.
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