WC Qualifiers: Suarez brace boosts Uruguay's hopes; Mexico, US suffer setbacks
Striker Luis Suarez scored twice as 2010 World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay beat Peru 2-1 on Friday to improve their chances of reaching the Brazil finals next year.
Uruguay remain in fifth place in the South American group with 19 points and three matches to go, seven points behind leaders Argentina and Colombia.
The top four at the end of the campaign will go through to the finals with the fifth-placed team going into a playoff with an Asian qualifier for another berth.
Uruguay went ahead with a penalty in the 42nd minute when Suarez went down under a challenge from behind by Christian Ramos although it was far from clear from video replays whether the Peru defender had touched the striker.
Image: Uruguay's Luis Suarez (facing camera) celebrates with team-mate Walter Gargano
Photographs: Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Reuters
Play was end-to-end in the second half
Peru's players complained bitterly before Suarez calmly hit his spot kick low into the corner to his left with Raul Fernandez diving the other way.
Just before the halftime whistle, Yoshimar Yotun was sent off after kneeing Suarez in the back then trying to force the striker to get up believing he was feigning injury.
Play was end-to-end in the second half as Peru's 10 men tried to get back into the match while Uruguay sought to put it beyond their reach with fast counter-attacks.
Uruguay struck again in the 67th minute when a defender cleared from the feet of substitute Christian Stuani only for the ball to roll to Suarez who drove it into the roof of the net for his 10th goal of the qualifiers.
Peru winger Jefferson Farfan pulled one back six minutes from time by putting a fine free kick out of reach of goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
Striker Claudio Pizarro was twice denied by good saves from Muslera in the first half.
Image: Uruguay's Edinson Cavani (centre) is challenged by Peru's Alberto Junior Rodriguez (right) and Juan Manuel Vargas
Photographs: Mariano Bazo/Reuters
Mexico's biggest worry
Mexico suffered only their second ever qualifying defeat in the Azteca Stadium with a 2-1 loss to Honduras on Friday that increases the pressure on coach Jose Manuel de la Torre and leaves 'El Tri' with plenty of work to do to qualify for Brazil.
Mexico's biggest worry going into Friday's game was a lack of attacking efficiency at home after their three previous qualifiers at the Azteca had all ended in goalless draws.
Seeking to address the issue, De la Torre left Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez on the bench and started with Oribe Peralto in attack with the move paying off instantly.
Giovani dos Santos burst down the left flank and picked out Peralto with a low cross, which the striker calmly slotted home to end Mexico's home goal drought after just six minutes.
Mexico seemed in control but the introduction of Jerry Bengtson to the Honduran attack changed the game.
Carlos Costly's powerful drive was parried out by Jose Corona and Bengtson reacted quickly to tap in the loose ball for a 64th minute equaliser.
Two minutes later, Costly grabbed the winner when he bustled past Diego Reyes before unleashing a superb shot into the far corner.
Mexico travel to Columbus, Ohio to face the United States on Tuesday with both teams feeling the pressure to get back to winning ways quickly.
Image: Luis Fernando Garrido (19) and Marvin Chavez (10) of Honduras celebrate their team's victory as players of Mexico react
Photographs: Henry Romero/Reuters
Costa Rica took a step towards booking their place
Costa Rica, who top the CONCACAF region standings, at next year's finals with an impressive 3-1 win over the United States while Panama were held to a goalless draw at home to Jamaica in the other game.
After seven rounds of matches, Costa Rica have 14 points, the United States 13, Honduras moved up to 10 points while Mexico are in fourth place, outside the automatic qualification slots on eight points in the final stage six-team group.
Panama are on seven and Jamaica are bottom of the standings on three points.
The US suffered a blow even before the game began when key midfielder Michael Bradley limped off the field with an ankle injury picked up during the warm-up.
Costa Rica grabbed the lead in the third minute when Jhonny Acosta headed in a corner at the near post past DaMarcus Beasley on the line.
Seven minutes later it was 2-0 when Cristian Bolanos floated a ball towards the back post and Celso Borges rose superbly above Beasley to head home.
Playing in his 100th international game, Clint Dempsey converted a penalty shortly before the break to give Juergen Klinsmann's side hope of a second half comeback.
But a goal on the breakaway by the lively Joel Campbell with 13 minutes remaining secured victory for Costa Rica.
Panama will be kicking themselves for not taking advantage of Mexico's stumble after they failed to defeat a Jamaica team that played most of the second half with 10 men.
It was the first game in charge for Jamaica's new German coach Winfried Schaefer and he had keeper Donovan Ricketts to thank for some superb saves.
Jamaica had Rodolph Austin sent off for a second bookable offence in the 58th minute but held on for a point.
Image: Jermaine Jones (front) of the US heads the ball against Costa Rica's Bryan Ruiz
Photographs: Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters
Chile dent Venezuela's hopes
Chile took a big step towards qualification and all but wrecked Venezuela's dream of going to their first World Cup finals with a 3-0 home win in their South American qualifier on Friday.
Forward Eduardo Vargas, defender Marcos Gonzalez and midfielder Arturo Vidal scored for Chile, who leapfrogged Ecuador and now are third in the South American group on 24 points. Argentina and Colombia are joint top with 26.
The top four teams at the end of the qualifiers in October go through to the 2014 Brazil finals. The fifth-placed side go into a playoff against an Asian qualifier in November for one more berth.
Venezuela remain on 16 points and their dream of getting to the World Cup finals for the first time now appears fanciful.
Vargas scored in the 10th minute from Jorge Valdivia's precise cross and rejoiced in defiance of human rights campaigners Amnesty International, who had asked Chile's players not to celebrate their first goal as a gesture to remember the thousands tortured during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
Pinochet swept to power after a military coup on September 11, 1973.
Centre back Gonzalez doubled the advantage in the 30th minute with a header and Vidal scored six minutes from time with another header after a combination with winger Alexis Sanchez, who crossed from the right.
Venezuela, once known as the South American "Cinderella", were fourth at the 2011 Copa America and made a good start to the qualifiers but they have lost two of their last three, against Uruguay and Chile.
Image: Chile's Alexis Sanchez (centre) and Venezuela's Grenddy Perozo (right) compete for the ball
Photographs: Eliseo Fernandez/Reuters
Colombia close in on first finals since 1998
Colombia moved within grasp of their first World Cup finals appearance in 16 years with a 1-0 home win over Ecuador in a downpour in Barranquilla on Friday.
The Colombians celebrated as though they had secured their ticket to next year's tournament in Brazil, but have ensured only that, at worst, they will go into a playoff against an Asian qualifier in November.
They joined Argentina at the top of the South American group from which the leading four teams will go through to the finals at the end of the qualifying campaign next month with the fifth-placed team reaching the playoff for one more berth.
Midfielder James Rodriguez scored the only goal after half an hour when Ecuador were already down to 10 men after defender Gabriel Achilier was sent off for bringing down goal-bound striker Teofilo Gutierrez in the 28th minute.
Striker Radamel Falcao, passed fit at the last minute, had a shot from outside the box which goalkeeper Maximo Banguera could only parry away, allowing his Monaco team mate Rodriguez to swoop in from the left and steer a left-footed shot in off the base of the far post.
"I'm happy with the goal and because we won. When you want to win things you also have to suffer and that happened today," Rodriguez said after Colombia laboured against a team a man short for more than an hour.
Ecuador should have equalised just past the hour but left back Walter Ayovi put his penalty wide after Antonio Valencia had been brought down by Carlos Sanchez.
Seconds later at the other end midfielder Juan Cuadrado crossed from the right to Gutierrez at the far post but the ball hit the striker on the thigh and came back off the post.
The match ended three hours and 40 minutes after it had been scheduled to start.
First, kickoff was delayed due to a waterlogged Metropolitano pitch after earlier torrential rain, which abated but did not stop and the match started an hour and a half late.
Then the start of the second half was delayed for 20 minutes due a floodlighting failure.
There was also a five-minute delay early in the second half for treatment to Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina after he banged his head in a collision with Montero, though he recovered to play on.
There was a minute's silence before kickoff in remembrance of Ecuador's Christian Benitez, who died of heart failure in Qatar in July.
Image: Colombia's team members celebrate after defeating Ecuador
Photographs: John Vizcaino/Reuters