Torres strikes late as Ecuador hold Brazil in drama-filled WC qualifier
Quito (Ecuador) : Goalkeeper Alisson Becker had two red cards overturned as Brazil drew 1-1 with Ecuador in a controversial World Cup qualifier here. Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro gave the visitors the lead at Rodrigo Paz Delgado stadium by bundling home from close range following a corner.Ecuador were reduced to 10 men on Thursday night shortly after when goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez was dismissed for catching Matheus Cunha with a boot to the head. Brazil defender Emerson was then sent off for a second rash tackle.It looked as if Brazil would be forced to play the last hour with just nine players when Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan penalised Alisson with a red card for a high boot that struck Enner Valencia in the face.However, after a long deliberation with the video assistant referee (VAR), Roldan downgraded the punishment to a yellow card, Xinhua reports. The drama did not end there. Ecuador had a penalty denied following another VAR review before Felix Torres equalised by latching onto a Gonzalo Plata cross with a powerful header in the 75th minute.
There was still time for VAR to make another contentious intervention and it again involved Alisson. The Liverpool shot-stopper was initially expelled after appearing to punch Ayrton Preciado in the head while attempting to clear a cross. But Roldan once again changed his decision after consulting the video assistant.The result leaves Ecuador third in the 10-team South American group with 24 points from 15 matches while leaders Brazil remain undefeated with 36 points from 14 games. The top four teams will earn an automatic spot at this year’s World Cup in Qatar while the fifth-ranked side will progress to an intercontinental playoff.Meanwhile in Asuncion, Paraguay, Luis Suarez scored a superb second-half goal as Uruguay kept their World Cup qualification hopes alive with a 1-0 victory away to Paraguay. The 35-year-old struck in the 50th minute by running on to Diego Godin’s long pass and firing a first-time shot into the far corner.Paraguay were reduced to 10 men in second-half stoppage time when Gustavo Gomez was shown a second yellow card for a bad foul on Jose Gimenez.The result leaves Uruguay fourth in the 10-team South American zone with 19 points from 15 matches. Paraguay are ninth with 13 points.