Friday's busy international schedule took us on a journey from the Comoros Islands to Swaziland to Liberia to Spain to the Czech Republic, sadly to Paris as well, and eventually over to the Americas for a quick stop in Jamaica and lastly, for the main event, down to Buenos Aires. This match was supposed to take place yesterday, but it was delayed 24 hours due to a torrential downpour over El Monumental stadium.
Both Brazil and Argentina had gotten off to indifferent starts in the long and drawn-out qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup, managing a combined one win between themselves in the four matches in October. A loss in this match would've not been the end of the world of course, but both Dunga and Tata Martino had started coming under pressure from their respective FAs. As it turned out, neither had to talk away with one, though the 1-1 draw helps the former more than the latter.
Of the two Chelsea boys called up to Brazil, only Willian got to play, though he did get almost the full match to do most of the usual Willian things we've come accustomed to over the past several months, plus this sneaky little elastico to cut between two defenders and create a shot for himself.
While the first half belonged almost entirely to the hosts, even without the likes of Messi and Aguero, they failed to make their dominance pay and managed just the one goal from Ezequiel Lavezzi. Brazil's fightback after the interval was impressive, the introduction of Douglas Costa proving a master stroke that paid immediate dividends in a 58th minute equalizer from Lucas Lima.
A surprisingly amicable occasion did eventually descend into a bit of chippiness and David Luiz even managed to get himself sent off for an out-of-control run, loss of control, and subsequent two-footed lunging tackle. With just two points from their first three games, Argentina remain worse off than all but one other team in the region. Meanwhile, Ecuador are the only perfect team remaining. I suppose this is why this qualification league goes on for two years, to even out all this silliness.
Elsewhere, Jamaica and Michael Hector went down in flames to Panama, 2-0. After reaching the final of this summer's Gold Cup, Jamaica have lost 4 of 5.