Brazil took two serious blows in their World Cup qualifying match against Uruguay, as they lost 2-0 and then saw their star forward Neymar leave the Centenario stadium in Montevideo in tears following an injury to his left knee.
Brazil captain Casemiro said Neymar’s injury on Tuesday seemed “serious” as Brazil put on their worst performance under new coach Fernando Diniz, who will remain in the job at least until next year’s Copa America.
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“For Neymar to leave the match it is surely something serious,” Casemiro told reporters after the game.
“But I hope it isn’t at the end. He has had those injuries whenever he starts picking up his pace again, it is hard”
Uruguay, now coached by Argentinian Marcelo Bielsa, had their first win against Brazil in 22 years.
Fit and firing Messi
While Brazil were handed their first defeat in 37 World Cup qualifying matches on Tuesday, their South American neighbours Argentina beat Peru 2-0 with Lionel Messi scoring both goals as he played the full match for the world champions.
The 36-year-old appeared fit after he was sidelined for several matches with his club Inter Miami because of muscular pain.
Messi increased his international goal tally to 106 in 178 appearances, moving within two of Iran’s Ali Daei for second on the career list behind Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo at 127.
The defending World Cup champions never faced risks at Lima’s National Stadium against a Peruvian team that have yet to score in four qualifying matches. Argentina’s confident performance could be traced to Messi finally playing as a starter and appearing fully healthy.
He made it 1-0 after a counterattack in the 32nd minute. Enzo Fernandez passed to Nico Gonzalez on the left. A low cross found Messi at the edge of the box, and he shot it to the left angle of goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
Messi scored again 10 minutes later after Fernandez found him nearly at the same spot. Messi shot it on Gallese’s right corner. He later had a goal disallowed for a low-margin offside caught by video review in the 57th minute.
“Yes, we have a good group and a good environment in our dressing room and things are much easier. We enjoy being together and playing together,” Messi said after the match.
“After we won the World Cup we got confidence, we are more united and firm. I hope we can keep growing.”
Peruvian and Argentinian fans tried to invade the field after the match to hug Messi, who led the World Cup champions to their eighth straight victory since they won last year’s title in Qatar.
Argentina top South American qualifying table
Elsewhere, Venezuela beat Chile 3-0, Ecuador and Colombia had a scoreless draw, and Paraguay beat Bolivia 1-0 on Antonio Sanabria’s goal in the 69th minute.
Argentina lead the South American qualifying group with 12 points in four matches. Uruguay, Brazil and Venezuela have seven points and are separated by goal difference. Colombia have six points, and Ecuador, Paraguay and Chile have four each. Peru have one point and Bolivia have zero.
The next World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada will include 48 teams, meaning direct entry for the top six teams in South America. The seventh-place team will contest an intercontinental playoff for a berth.
Two more rounds of South American World Cup qualifying will be played in November. Brazil and Argentina will face off at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on November 21.
Source: News Agencies