Despite losing 3-1 to Paraguay Thursday night in Ciudad del Este, the Tricolor are headed to the World Cup for the fourth time in the country’s history. Although it appeared likely the team was going to Qatar before yesterday’s games, it became certain following Uruguay’s 1-0 victory over Peru in Montevideo.
Ecuador and Uruguay both reached 25 points in the World Cup qualifier table and can no longer be overtaken by other teams. They will vie for the third position in the final round of South American qualifiers. Brazil and Argentina had already secured the region’s top two spots.
Ecuador faces undefeated Argentina Tuesday in Guayaquil while Uruguay plays Chile in the final round of qualifiers.
The fifth South American World Cup position, which qualifies for an international playoff against an Asian team to be determined, is still up for grabs. Peru, with 21 points, can get it by beating Paraguay at home on Tuesday. Colombia, with 20 after its 3-0 win against Bolivia, needs to beat Venezuela and cheer against the Peruvians.
Chile, with 19 points, will have to overcome Uruguay in Santiago and hope other results go its way. La Roja will not be very confident about that result after being crushed by Brazil 4-0 at the Maracanã Stadium.
Following what Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro called an “uninspired effort”, the team celebrated its World Cup invitation as Paraguay celebrated its victory. With a losing record in the qualifiers, Paraguay plays its last qualifier game Tuesday against Peru.
Ecuador was no match for Paraguay Thursday night, a team that had nothing to lose. Robert Morales opened the scoring in the ninth minute, Ecuadorian defender Piero Hincapié scored an own goal from long range seconds before the halftime whistle and Miguel Almirón added a third in the 54th minute. Jordy Caicedo scored for Ecuador from the spot in the 85th minute.