Paraguay 2-1 Chile
1 September 2016
Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción
World Cup Qualifier
Scorers: Romero, Da Silva (Paraguay); Vidal (Chile)
Paraguay are the new Unofficial Football World Champions following this great victory over Copa America champs Chile. Two early goals were enough for Paraguay, while Chile pulled a goal back, but had Gary Medel sent off. This was Paraguay’s first UFWC title match win since 1979 – when they also defeated Chile. But Paraguay barely have time to celebrate. The next UFWC challengers will be Uruguay.
New coach Francisco “Chiqui” Arce made several changes to the Paraguay team that failed to win a game at the Copa America Centenario under Ramon Diaz. And Los Guaraníes made a stunning start to the game. In the sixth minute, Racing midfielder Oscar Romero hit a fantastic 20-yard shot across Chile keeper Cristopher Toselli and into the corner of the net. Then, three minutes later, centre back and captain Paulo da Silva headed in from a corner. With just nine minutes on the clock, Paraguay were 2-0 up against Juan Antonio Pizzi’s UFWC and Copa America champions.
Chile, with Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas, were never going to be pushovers, and they did fight back. A brilliant overhead kick from Vargas tested Paraguay keeper Diego Barreto. Then, in the 36th minutes, Arturo got his head to a free-kick, and guided the ball past Barreto into the bottom corner of the net.
In the second half, both sides had chances to score. Paraguay’s Romero had another long-range shot pushed away by Toselli, and Darío Lezcano put the ball over the ball with just the keeper to beat. For Chile, Vargas tried to emulate Romero’s early goal from a similar position, but the ball went just wide of the post. But Chile couldn’t find an equaliser, and their defeat was confirmed when captain Medel was sent off in the 93rd minute, receiving a second yellow card for what looked like an unavoidable handball.
The match finished 2-1, and the World Cup Qualifier win moves Paraguay to sixth in the qualification table, two points ahead of Chile, level with Brazil, a point behind second-placed Uruguay, and just two points behind top-placed Argentina. The top four teams qualify, and the fifth goes into an inter-continental play-off.
This was Paraguay’s eighth UFWC title match win, and they move up to 23rd in the all-time UFWC rankings. The next title match comes around quick and fast, with another World Cup Qualifier on Tuesday, 6 September. Paraguay will attempt to defend the UFWC title against recent UFWC champions Uruguay at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. Uruguay lost tonight to Argentina, and a goal from the out-of-retirement Lionel Messi. A win on Tuesday would see Paraguay move above Uruguay in the World Cup Qualification table. Kick-off is 22:00 local time (0:00 midnight UK BST).
We’ll have a report here after the match. In the meantime, if you’re new to the Unofficial Football World Championships you can find out all about the UFWC here. And you can keep up to date with all things UFWC by following us on Twitter or Facebook.
(Note: For the avoidance of confusion, this match was played on the evening of 1 September in Paraguay, which was the morning of 2 September in the UK.)