It’s been 35 years since Peru’s last appearance at a FIFA World Cup finals, a streak of hurt dating back to the 1982 tournament in Spain. By improbably finishing fifth in CONMEBOL qualifying, ahead of back-to-back Copa America champions Chile and 2014 finalists Ecuador, a home-and-away playoff against Oceania representative New Zealand is the only thing standing in the way of Peru punching their ticket to Russia.
Central & South America
The USMNT was eliminated from World Cup qualification Tuesday in humiliating fashion, and folks have wasted no time dancing on the grave of the USA's World Cup hopes.
It has since been changed, but this was the state of the Trinidad & Tobago Wikipedia page last night:
Last night Panama officially reached the first World Cup finals in their history. Accordingly, Panama President Juan Carlos Varela has declared today a national holiday.
In a series of tweets, Varela gave public and private sector workers the day off, and canceled classes for students.
Here's Varela's full quote:
Maybe you’ve already heard, but the USMNT will not be going to the World Cup. They’ve been gazumped in the Hex by both Panama and Honduras following the most embarrassing defeat in the history of American sport. But America’s loss is another’s gain, primarily Panama’s, who’ve clinched automatic qualification to Russia.
This is not a goal. The ball did not go in the goal and therefore it cannot be a goal. The United States are out of the World Cup because this was called a goal. It was not a goal. The ball did not cross the line.
I need a drink. Goodnight.
Lionel Messi, with the hopes of a football crazed nation on his shoulders and the studs of a negative Ecuadorian side in his shins, scored an unfathomable hat trick to send Argentina to the World Cup. What else do you want to hear? What else do you want to know?
You know what Kobe Bryant once said: “You shake a tree and a leopard is gonna fall out.” Well, Ecuador shook the tree. Ecuador's Romario Ibarra netted a nifty little goal off a couple of give-and-go headers and La Albiceleste were off to a nightmarish start. Then the leopard fell out.
Lionel Messi is the leopard. Messi went on to score two goals just eight minutes apart (12’ and 20’) to give Argentina life on the last day of this crazy CONMEBOL qualifying campaign.
Messi goal vs Ecuador #1
CONMEBOL is fun, guys. Through 17 games only one team out of 10 — Brazil — has clinched its spot in the 2018 World Cup. Six teams still have a chance for the remaining three automatic qualifying berths, with one more team qualifying for the intercontinental playoff against New Zealand. Five of those teams control their own destiny. On Tuesday, all 10 teams play in five matches kicking off simultaneously with South American World Cup hopes on the line.
It took Costa Rica all of 95 minutes to accomplish the feat, but in the end, Kendall Waston’s stoppage time equalizer secured the nation’s qualification to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. It was another surreal moment in Los Ticos’ qualifying campaign, one that’s seen them defeat the United States twice and finish second behind only Mexico in CONCACAF’s Hexagonal round.
Sometimes you need a hero. Yesterday, Peru got one. In a vital qualifying match facing no less than Argentina in Buenos Aires, Pedro Gallese was the hero for his national team and has over 30 million Peruvians dreaming of getting to the World Cup after 32 years.