Quito, Ecuador. — Ecuador defeats Uruguay 2-1 at home to move in first place in the CONMEBOL Russia 2018 qualifiers. Uruguay faced off with Ecuador on the 3rd match day of Russia 2018 qualifiers for the South American confederation, CONMEBOL. The first 4 places will qualify directly to the World Cup with the 5th place team heading to a playoff against an Oceana team.
Uruguay saw the return of their hitman Edinson Cavani who had been suspended for two games during Copa America 2015. Uruguayan star Luis Suarez continued serving his 9 game suspension, issued by FIFA, after biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in the World Cup.
Ecuador fielded an alternate squad as 4 of their first 11 were injured; English Premeire League stars Antonio Valencia, of Manchester United, and Enner Valencia, of West Ham United; Michael Arroyo of Mexican side Club America and Rene Ibarra of Dutch side Vitesse.
Uruguay took a pragmatic approach as they ceded possession to Ecuador, keeping numbers behind the ball, and exploit the space left by Ecuador as they advanced.
Ecuador was the first to score with goal from forward Felipe Caicedo after fullback Juan Paredes exploited space on Uruguay’s left flank.
Cavani headed in the tying goal from after Nicolas Lodeiro served in a freekick just inside the 18. Cavani found himself with space to finish comfortably as Ecuador failed to apply an offside currently.
Moments later Cavani had a chance to give Uruguay the go-ahead but would be denied by Ecuadorean keeper Alexander Dominguez.
Fidel Martinez put away Ecuador’s 2nd goal after goalkeeper Fernando Muslera turned away Jefferson Montero’s powerful shot near the right wing.
After the go ahead goal, Ecuador enjoyed their best moments of the game exploiting the flanks of a physically depleted Uruguayan backline but were unable to extend their lead.
The match was not controversy free as referee Ricardo Marques Riberio would caution Paredes with a yellow only to rescind after being corrected by 4th official Pericles Cortes.
GK Alexander Domínguez
Backs Frickson Erazo, Juan Paredes, Walter Ayoví, Gabriel Achilier
Mids Christian Noboa, Jefferson Montero(89′ Angel Mena), Fidel Martínez, Pedro Quinonez (45′ Alex Bolaños)
Forwards Felipe Caicedo, Miller Bolaños(83′ Juan Caceres)
GK Fernando Muslera
Backs Diego Godín, Maxi Pereira, Sebastián Coates, Martín Cáceres
Mids Carlos Sánchez, Nicolás Lodeiro(63′ Diego Rolan), Egidio Arévalo, Álvaro González(88′ Alvaro Pereira)
Forwards Abel Hernández(86′ Michael Santos), Edinson Cavani