Christian Pulisic and the US took a big step towards qualification for the World Cup with a hard-earned goalless draw in the Azteca Stadium in Mexico, while Thiago Silva captained Brazil to another emphatic victory.
The USMNT travelled to Mexico knowing they needed a maximum of five points from their three remaining qualifiers this week to secure a place in Qatar. Both teams were boosted before kick-off by the news top-four rivals Panama could only draw with Honduras.
In Mexico City, Pulisic had the clearest sight of goal in the first half, set up perfectly by Timothy Weah’s right-wing cross. His shot was too close to Guillermo Ochoa, though, who smuggled it around the post.
Our attacker then forced Ochoa to tip his rising left-footed drive over the crossbar early in the second period, before US sub Jordan Pefok missed a golden opportunity to put the visitors ahead with 20 minutes remaining, screwing a close-range shot well wide.
Zack Steffen of Man City made one fine late save to preserve America’s clean sheet, and even though they created the better chances on the night they will still feel like it is a point gained. Pulisic was withdrawn very late on.
Panama await the US on Sunday in Orlando. Should they win and Costa Rica fail to beat El Salvador, a World Cup berth will be theirs. If not, they will still have a chance to finish the job in Costa Rica on Wednesday.
Brazil were the first South America nation to qualify for the World Cup back in November, and their outstanding form shows no sign of relenting as their campaign reaches its conclusion.
They thrashed Chile 4-0 at the Maracana in their final scheduled home game before the World Cup. Thiago Silva captained the Selecao and completed the full game in the centre of defence.
Neymar and Philippe Coutinho netted penalties either side of Vinicius Junior’s first goal for his country. Richarlison completed the scoring in injury time, ending Chile’s hopes of reaching Qatar automatically.
Brazil remain undefeated in qualification with 13 wins and three draws, scoring 36 goals and conceding just five along the way. They have still never lost a home World Cup qualifier, and travel to Bolivia on Tuesday.