Di Maria, Mercado fire Argentina to victory over Chile

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Santiago, March 25 (IANS) Angel Di Maria and Gabriel Mercado struck first-half goals to help Argentina overcome the Chilean football team 2-1 in their World Cup qualifier here.

Felipe Gutierrez opened the scoring at Estadio Nacional on Thursday by heading in from a corner before Di Maria equalised by curling a low drive past Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, reports Xinhua.

In a frenetic first half, River Plate defender Mercado then gave the visitors the lead by bundling in a Lionel Messi cross.

Argentina now have eight points from five qualifiers while 2015 Copa America champions Chile have seven points.

Earlier, Ecuador earned a last-gasp draw with Paraguay in Quito thanks to a 92nd-minute strike from Angel Mena. West Ham United forward Enner Valencia gave the hosts the lead before Dario Lezcano struck either side of halftime for Paraguay.

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Ecuador remain on top of the South American zone qualifying standings with 13 points. Paraguay have eight.

And in La Paz, Edwin Cardona also scored in second-half stoppage time to hand Colombia a 3-2 victory over Bolivia. James Rodriguez and Carlos Bacca had given Colombia a 2-0 lead before the hosts equalised through Juan Arce and Alejandro Chumacero.

The top four teams at the end of the two-year qualifying campaign earn an automatic berth at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The fifth-ranked side will advance to the inter-confederation playoffs.

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