Brazil close in on World Cup berth post Paraguay drubbing

On Wednesday, the MCG game organisers released a statement saying Messi's suspension would not include the MCG match.

Although it was not Messi's predicament that has helped the five-time champion to reach the top since there is still one fight between Uruguay and Argentina which can still go past Brazil.

It is hard to imagine that, mere nine months ago, pundits were discussing the possibility of Brazil not qualifying for the World Cup.

Neymar was awarded a penalty after being brought down early in the second half but his stop-start run-up failed to deceive Silva and the keeper saved with a dive to his right then blocked his effort with the rebound.

While Brazil celebrated, Argentina was left digesting another stumble as it slumped to a 0-2 defeat in La Paz. Both Colombia and Chile won on Tuesday night, after wins over Ecuador and Venezuela respectively. And despite having multiple teammates around him, he cut in and took a quick shot which took a deflection from a backtracking defender to seal the result in Brazil's favour in the 64th minute.

Against Paraguay, Brazil were already in party mode, with Coutinho opening the scoring on 34 minutes following a deft one-two with China-based midfielder Paulinho.

Messi's four-game ban, for abusing a linesman in last week's qualifier, was announced by Federation Internationale de Football Association just hours before Argentina faced Bolivia away.

Brazil will qualify for the World Cup with four games in hand at the Arena Corinthians if it beats Paraguay and sees Chile and Ecuador failing to win home matches. "This is a fight that we will keep fighting", Bauza told a post-match news conference, before admitting there were big concerns within the squad.

Argentina's next games will be in August at Uruguay and in Buenos Aires against Venezuela.

Paulo Guerrera and Edison Flores were on the score-sheet for Peru while Carlos Sanchez profiting from a Luis Suarez assist scored Uruguay's consolation goal. It is noteworthy that Brazil itself is less than two goals are not scored in this period.

Neymar starred with his 52nd worldwide goal as high-flying Brazil overcame Paraguay 3-0 early Wednesday morning (Nigerian time) at the Corinthians Arena, but the CONMEBOL leaders still needed a favourable result in Peru.

  • Julie Sanders