BUENOS AIRES. Colombia took a huge stride towards their first FIFA World Cup finals appearance since France 1998 by beating Ecuador in Barranquilla in one of the biggest games on Matchday 15 of the South American qualifying competition for Brazil 2014.
Los Cafeteros are now guaranteed a play-off place at the very least, as are group leaders Argentina, who were not in action on Friday.
Meanwhile, Chile’s defeat of Venezuela moved them into third at the expense of the Ecuadorians, who are under pressure from Uruguay following their fine win in Lima.
In the day’s other game, Paraguay confirmed Bolivia’s elimination with an emphatic win in Asuncion.
Chile turned in a solid all-round performance as they brushed aside Venezuela in Santiago to move up to third in the table, their highest position since reaching second on Matchday 7.
La Roja’s fourth consecutive qualifying win under Jorge Sampaoli also took their unbeaten run against La Vinotinto in FIFA World Cup preliminaries to five games.
The Chileans have yet to draw a game in the competition, having won eight and lost six. As for Cesar Farias’ charges, they have collected just one point in the last three games – their worst run in the competition to date – and remain out of the qualification places.
“They were stronger than us,” said the Venezuelan coach after the final whistle.