Brazil score five against Bolivia, Colombia overrun Venezuela

Brazil score five against Bolivia, Colombia overrun Venezuela

SAO PAULO: Roberto Firmino scored twice and Marquinhos and Philippe Coutinho also got on the scoresheet as Brazil hammered Bolivia 5-0 in their opening World Cup qualifier in Sao Paulo on Friday.

Marquinhos put the home side 1-0 up with a header after 16 minutes before Firmino scored after 18 and 49 minutes, both times by getting on the end of low crosses into the penalty box.

The fourth came after 66 minutes, when a glancing touch from Rodrygo deflected off defender Jose Maria Carrasco’s shoulder and Philippe Coutinho completed the rout with a header seven minutes later.

The top four teams in the 10-team South American group qualify directly for Qatar 2022 and the fifth-placed side go into an inter-regional playoff.

Brazil now travel to Lima to face Peru on Tuesday, while Bolivia are at home the same day to Argentina, who opened their campaign with a 1-0 win over Ecuador on Thursday.

In Barranquilla, Colombia scored three goals in a superb first half to beat Venezuela 3-0 and get their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign off to an impressive start at home.

Venezuela are the only side in South America never to have reached the World Cup finals and they showed why in a disastrous opening 45 minutes at a fan-free stadium on Colombia’s coast.

Duvan Zapata put the home side 1-0 up after 16 minutes when he slid in and finished off a delicious low cross from Juan Cuadrado.

His Atalanta teammate Luis Muriel made it two nine minutes later when he scored with a first-time shot from 10 meters out.

Muriel then got Colombia’s third just seconds before the half time whistle, when he completed a rapid counterattack.

Colombia took their foot off the pedal in the second-half minutes but Venezuela could make no impact and neither side could add to the scoreline in a calmer second 45 minutes.

The top four teams in the 10-team South American group qualify automatically for the finals in Qatar in 2022 and the fifth-placed side will go into an inter-regional playoff.

Venezuela face Paraguay at home in their next game on Tuesday, while Colombia go to Santiago to play Chile the same day. – Reuters