Paulinho hat-trick keeps Brazil on road to Russian Federation

(AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico). Uruguay's Edinson Cavani leaves the field after loosing against Brazil 1-4 during a 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Brazil in Montevideo, Uruguay, Thursday, March 23, 2017.

Brazil are now seven points clear at the top of the South American qualification group for Russian Federation, with Uruguay down in second and Argentina a point behind them in third. Following a controversial penalty call and subsequent Lionel Messi spot kick goal, the Albiceleste hung on against heated neighbors/rivals Chile, who probably felt like they should have left the capital with a point.

Roberto Firmino insists he's ready to replace Gabriel Jesus for Brazil's upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Paraguay.

Colombia needed a late James Rodriguez goal to beat a resolute Bolivia 1-0 in Baranquilla.

Both Uruguay and Brazil were without their leading forwards for the blockbuster reverse fixture at Estadio Centenario, following last year's 2-2 draw in Recife.

The result was Uruguay's first loss at home since 2010. That allowed the Uruguayan to score his ninth goal in South American qualifiers, more than any other player.

Listen to the Live Commentary of Uruguay vs Brazil Fifa Worldcup qualifier on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Despite their dominance, it took until just after halftime for Brazil to take the lead. With his side up a goal already, the Barcelona winger shrugged off a defender, walked in on goal and scored a fantastic chip over the head of the goalkeeper.

Neymar then scored in the 75th minute to make the game safe before Paulinho chested home in injury time to complete a deserved win.

"There is nothing to say, Brazil defended very well and were very forceful". The Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao midfielder took one touch before unleashing a rocket of a shot into the top corner of the net.

"We kept a bit more positioned, but I see that we had more ball possession than them throughout the 90 minutes".

The hosts were stung into action and began to press Brazil as they searched for an equaliser but left themselves susceptible to an counter-attack which Neymar took full advantage of in the 74th minute to effectively seal the result. "What matters is that we won", Bauza said after the game.

  • Julie Sanders