Di Maria, Mercado fire Argentina to victory over Chile

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.

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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