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Round-up: Chile beat Ecuador as incredible six-nation battle heads to final chapter

Round-up: Chile beat Ecuador as six-nation battle heads to final chapter
By Reuters

06/10/2017 at 07:10Updated 06/10/2017 at 08:24

Chile survived a late scare to beat Ecuador 2-1 on Thursday and keep alive their hopes of reaching the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia as they moved into third-place in the 10-team South American qualifying group.

The top four teams qualify automatically for Russia with the fifth-placed side facing Oceania champions New Zealand in a two-legged play-off.

Argentina are in serious danger of failing to qualify after being held to a 0-0 draw by Peru, leaving Lionel Messi and Co. in sixth spot, ahead of a trip to air-thin city Quito to face Ecuador.

Two goals in the last three minutes gave Paraguay a 2-1 win over Colombia and ensured both teams are still in contention for Russia, while Uruguay failed to break down Venezuela in a 0-0 draw and were left waiting to bag what looked a certain place to next summer's showpiece event.

Brazil were held to a 0-0 draw away to Bolivia, with home goalkeeper Carlos Lampe in outstanding form.

The incredible race to Russia

With just one game remaining, Brazil are the only South American side to have guaranteed their spot, with Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, and Paraguay all dependent on results in Tuesday's final round of matches.

Copa America champions Chile have perhaps the toughest task in their final match, against Brazil in Sao Paulo. The five-times world champions have never lost a World Cup qualifier at home.

Chile forward Alexis Sanchez

Chile forward Alexis SanchezGetty Images

Chile have failed to sparkle this year, losing three of their last four qualifiers before Thursday.

However, Tigres striker Eduardo Vargas helped them back to their winning ways with a goal after 22 minutes.

Alexis Sanchez stole the ball on the edge of the box and fed midfielder Jorge Valdivia and his pass left Vargas in space 12 yards out to crash the ball past keeper Maximo Banguera.

Romario Ibarra equalised for Ecuador with eight minutes remaining but Sanchez was on hand three minutes later when Banguera could only parry a shot on the edge of the six-yard box.

Sanchez then had the simplest of tasks slipping the ball home for the winner.