• Sat
  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 5:40pm
SportSoccer
WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS

Colombia hold Argentina to draw in World Cup qualifier

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 June, 2013, 5:39am

Colombia climbed into second place in South America's World Cup qualifying group after holding leaders Argentina 0-0, while Chile did their chances of reaching the finals no harm with a win in Paraguay.

Colombia's goal difference puts them above Ecuador, who lost 1-0 to Peru in Lima, while Chile hold fourth spot after beating Paraguay 2-1. Venezuela clung to fifth despite giving away a late equaliser for a 1-1 draw against Bolivia at high altitude in La Paz.

South American champions Uruguay, who had a bye for this round of matches, dropped to seventh below Peru and visit Venezuela on Tuesday in desperate need of a win.

Argentina, starting without Lionel Messi, and Colombia served up a feast of attacking football at the Monumental in Buenos Aires with chances galore early on, but two red cards before half an hour was up changed the complexion of the game.

The dismissal of Gonzalo Higuain and Cristian Zapata for kicking out at each other affected Argentina more, leaving them without a striker in red hot form who almost scored two goals while he was on the pitch.

Higuain's suspension and doubts over Messi's match fitness could mean Argentina start away to Ecuador on Tuesday without their top scorers, who have 17 goals between them.

Messi, just back from a hamstring injury and lacking match fitness, rarely looked comfortable after coming on with little more than half an hour left.

Asked whether he would play against Ecuador, the Argentina captain said: "I don't know, I had gone a long time without a game. Playing at altitude is exhausting."

Messi no doubt recalled his struggle in the thin air of La Paz in Argentina's 1-1 draw with Bolivia in March and his team will have to contend with similar conditions in Quito.

Argentina have a five-point cushion at the top of the nine-nation South American group with Colombia and Ecuador both on 20 points and Chile 18.

The top four teams at the end of the qualifiers in October will go through to the Brazil finals. The fifth-placed team will enter a play-off against an Asian qualifier in November for another berth.

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