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World Cup 2018: Argentina Qualify, United States Eliminated, Peru Make Playoffs
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10 Oct 2017 11:13 PM EST

- by Jorge Vargas, Editor

It was a dramatic night of football all over the Americas, as CONMEBOL had five matches on, all of them featuring at least one side still in contention for a coveted World Cup 2018 spot. 

Argentina was the true star of the night, with all eyes focused on whether or not Lionel Messi and Co. would miss the upcoming global tournament in Russia. Their opponents were Ecuador, who had won their first four games of World Cup qualifying before skidding for most of the rest of the qualifiers. Ecuador, however, had the advantage of altitude and they also scored within the first minute of play. Lionel Messi, the only player to score for Argentina in over a year, put in a hat trick to turn the match around and win 3-1. 

Elsewhere in South America, Brazil hosted Chile, which have won the past two Copa America tournaments. The Chileans, confident that they'd steal away at least a point and qualify for the World Cup, held on for the first half before losing 3-0 by the final whistle. 

Uruguay did what was expected against Bolivia, winning handily, whereas Paraguay, which had bagged key wins in Chile and Colombia recently, lost 0-1 to a visiting Venezuelan side which was eliminated from qualifying long ago. 

Those results came together so that Peru and Colombia, playing in the Peruvian capital, were both able to advance with a 1-1 draw. Colombia scored first in that match after shoddy defending from Peru, but Peru's Paolo Guerrero scored a brilliant free kick in what was arguably the goal of the day in CONMEBOL to even things out at 1-1. Colombia qualified to the World Cup, whereas Peru will play a playoff against New Zealand in November. 

After 18 grueling matches each, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia all qualified, and Peru will go to the playoff. 

But the surprise of Peru possibly making it to its first world cup since 1982 was not the biggest of the night, because Concacaf still needed to play. 

The United States played away against an already eliminated Trinidad & Tobago side. The U.S. could have qualified even with a draw, under the right circumstances, but all of that came apart as the U.S., which has had a dreadful qualifying campaign, found itself down 2-0 against the Caribbean nation by the end of the first half. Elsewhere in Concacaf qualifying, Panama were able to against Costa Rica and Honduras defeated Mexico 3-2. Both of those results meant that the U.S., which wound up finishing with a 2-1 loss, ended the night with 12 points, just one shy of fourth-placed Honduras.

Honduras will now play Australia in the playoff round in November. 

For the U.S., which are now eliminated from the 2018 World Cup, one must begin to wonder not if Bruce Arena will be fired, but when.

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