Ribeiro sinks Chile as Brazil keep perfect record intact

SANTIAGO, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) — A second-half goal from substitute Everton Ribeiro handed an under-strength Brazil a gritty 1-0 away win over Chile in their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Thursday.

Ribeiro struck just after the hour mark when the ball rebounded fortuitously into his path after Claudio Bravo palmed away Neymar’s close-range effort. The Flamengo midfielder, who replaced Vinicius Junior at half-time, capitalized by prodding a first-time effort into the bottom right corner.

Chile looked the better side for most of the match, controlling 61 percent of possession and having 12 shots on goal to Brazil’s 10. However, they created few clear scoring chances, apart from a 15-second period in the first half when goalkeeper Weverton showed sharp reflexes to deny both Arturo Vidal and Eduardo Vargas.

Brazil were without five regular starters, who were prevented from traveling by their clubs because of concerns about possible COVID-19 quarantine requirements.

However, the five-time world champions showed enviable depth of talent to secure their seventh win from as many qualifiers and maintain their six-point lead at the top of the South American zone standings. Chile are seventh in the 10-team group, three points shy of the qualifying places.

Earlier on Thursday, Lautaro Martinez scored one goal and set up two more as Argentina beat Venezuela 3-1 in their qualifier in Caracas.

Venezuela were dealt a major blow just after the half-hour mark when Luis Martinez — who had come off the bench to replace the injured Jose Velazquez five minutes earlier — was shown a straight red card for catching Lionel Messi with a high tackle.

Argentina immediately looked more comfortable in possession and Martinez opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time with a cool finish after Giovani Lo Celso’s deft through ball.

Joaquin Correa doubled the lead by starting and finishing a superb attacking move that included a combination of slick passes from Messi and Martinez.

The Albiceleste netted again through Angel Correa, who swept home from close range after Wuilker Farinez used his feet to keep out Martinez’s dangerous first-time effort.

Yeferson Soteldo pulled a late goal back for the hosts when he converted from the penalty spot after he was tripped by Alejandro Gomez.

The result means Argentina remain second in the 10-team qualifying group with 15 points from seven games. Venezuela are last with just four points so far.

Earlier on Thursday, Bolivia and Colombia drew 1-1 in La Paz, Ecuador won 2-0 at home to Paraguay and Uruguay held Peru to a 1-1 draw in Lima.