Uruguay defeated Argentina by a goal but needed a three-goal victory to push Ecuador out of fourth place and the automatic berth. Uruguay, which Ecuador defeated last week in Quito, can still qualify for the Cup if it wins a two-game play-off with Jordan.
Chile dominated the first half, scoring two goals within five minutes late in the period. Ecuador controlled the second period, scoring a goal in the 66th minute and nearly tying the game in the last ten seconds as a sharp kick sailed just outside the goal post.
The World Cup qualification is Ecuador’s second in three series. They played in the 2006 Cup but missed the cut in 2010.
Ecuador’s Colombian coach, Reinaldo Rueda, dedicated his team’s qualification to Christian Benitez, the former Birmingham City striker who died in July.
A tearful Rueda praised his side for overcoming the shock loss of Benitez, who died of heart failure just weeks after joining Qatari club Al Jaish.
Crowds in the capital Quito also chanted “Chucho, Chucho” – the 27-year-old’s nickname – as they turned out to celebrate claiming the fourth and final automatic South American qualifying spot.
Ecuador President Rafael Correa also praised Benitez during a series of tributes to the squad on Twitter.
Rafael Correa second most popular prez in Americas
Danilo Medina of the Dominican Republic and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa of Ecuador are the two most popular leaders in the western hemisphere, according to a survey by the Mexican polling firm of Consulta Mitofsky. The two posted approval ratings of 88% and 84% respectively in a survey of American leaders.
The worst ratings went to Costa Rica’s Laura Chinchilla, with 9%, Colombia president Juan Manuel Santos, with 25%, and Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, tied at 26%.
Mitofsky says that on average the presidential acceptance of the 19 American presidents evaluated fell from an average of 55% in March to 47% in September of this year.
Following Medina and Correa in popularity were Panama’s Ricardo Martinelli (69%), Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega (66%), Salvadoran Mauricio Funes (64%), Bolivia’s Evo Morales (59% ) and Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto (56%).
Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro (48%) followed, with Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala (48%), and Uruguay’s Jose Mujica (45%) just behind him.
Barack Obama of the U.S. polled 44%, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff and Chile’s Sebastian Pineta had 36% each followed by Porfirio Lobo of Honduras and Ollanta Humala of Chile, both with 32%.
Photo caption: Ecuador’s coach dedicated the win to Christian Benitez, the former Birmingham City striker, who died in July of a heart attack.