Nunez strikes as Uruguay upset Brazil in 2026 qualifiers

MONTEVIDEO: Darwin Nunez scored one goal and set up another as Uruguay defeated Brazil for the first time in 22 years in their 2026 World Cup South American qualifying clash on Tuesday.

Liverpool striker Nunez struck with a bullet header on 42 minutes to open the scoring in a dour first half at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo.

The Premier League star then played a pivotal role in Uruguay’s second goal, holding up the ball well from a throw-in and cutting back for Nicolas de la Cruz to fire past Brazil goalkeeper Ederson on 77 minutes, sealing a 2-0 victory.

The win was Uruguay’s first over Brazil in a World Cup qualifying fixture since a 1-0 victory over the “Selecao” in Montevideo in July 2001.

The defeat marked another disappointing result for five-time world champions Brazil, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Venezuela last week in the previous round.

The win leaves Uruguay level on seven points alongside Brazil and Venezuela, two adrift of early pace-setters Argentina, who lead the standings with a maximum nine points from three games. Argentina face Peru in Lima later Tuesday.

Venezuela boosted their own hopes of reaching the World Cup for the first time with an impressive 3-0 rout of Chile in Maturin.

Winger Yeferson Soteldo was the star for ‘La Vinotinto’, scoring the opening goal and setting up second half goals for veteran striker Salomon Rondon and Darwin Machis.

Soteldo opened the scoring in stoppage time at the end of the first half, stabbing a low angled shot into the bottom corner to the delight of a raucous home crowd.

The Santos winger turned provider for Venezuela’s second, bursting down the left flank and cutting back for Rondon to sweep home from close range on 72 minutes.

Soteldo was involved again for Venezuela’s third, once again finding space on the left wing and crossing for an unmarked Machis to make it 3-0.

Elsewhere Tuesday, Paraguay got their first win of the qualifiers, defeating lowly Bolivia 1-0 in Asuncion with a 69th minute strike from Antonio Sanabria.

Bolivia remain bottom of the standings while Paraguay are seventh with three points from four games.

In Quito meanwhile, Colombia maintained their unbeaten start to qualifiers with a 0-0 draw away to Ecuador.

Six teams from the 10-team round robin tournament will qualify automatically for the 2026 World Cup, which will feature 48 teams for the first time and is being co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico. – AFP