- Brazil’s home winning streak in qualifying, dating back to 2015, was ended
- Eduard Bello’s overhead kicked earned Venezuela a shock draw on Thursday
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’
A stunning overhead kick by Eduard Bello helped Venezuela hold Brazil to a 1-1 draw and hand Argentina the early advantage in South American qualifying for the 2026 World Cup.
After Argentina edged out Paraguay 1-0 to make it three wins from three, Brazil were seemingly on course to match that record when Arsenal‘s Gabriel Magalhaes met Neymar‘s corner with a bullet header in the 50th-minute – his first international goal.
But after Brazil spurned several chances, and Vinicius Junior had a goal disallowed for offside, Bello met Jefferson Savarino’s 85th-minute cross with an acrobatic finish to level.
It ended Brazil’s home winning streak in World Cup qualifying stretching back 15 games to 2015. It was also the first time Brazil have failed to beat Venezuela at home.
Brazil’s next qualifier is a tough trip to Uruguay on Tuesday next week.
Gabriel Magalhaes (left) celebrates his first international goal for Brazil against Venezuela
The Arsenal defender headed home from Neymar’s corner in the World Cup qualifier
Eduard Bello’s overhead kick earned Venezuela an unexpected draw late in the contest
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‘Now we have to hold our heads up high and think about Uruguay. We wanted to go at them, they wanted to defend and we couldn’t break them like we wanted,’ Brazil captain Casemiro said after the match.
They had already recorded wins over Peru and Bolivia in the marathon qualifying section for the 2026 tournament, to be staged jointly between the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The top six nations in the 10-team group will qualify automatically after the World Cup was expanded to 48 teams, while the seventh-placed team will enter an Inter-Confederation Play-off.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi came off the bench as Argentina edged out Paraguay thanks to an early goal by Nicolas Otamendi.
The only goal of the match at the Monumental de Nunez Stadium came in the third minute after a corner kick that found Otamendi free from marking in the penalty box. The defender smashed the ball into the net with a left-foot volley.
The 36-year-old Messi has felt muscular pains in his right leg that have sidelined him for several matches at his club Inter Miami.
Coach Lionel Scaloni picked Nico Gonzalez as his replacement. The star replaced Julian Alvarez in the 52nd minute.
Lionel Messi came off the bench to help Argentina to a 1-0 win over Paraguay in qualifying
Messi hit the post following a corner kick 10 minutes after stepping on the pitch of the Monumental de Nuñez Stadium in Buenos Aires, but his other efforts to dribble and give deep passes fell flat.
A free-kick from the same spot where he scored the winner against Ecuador in September raised hopes for Argentina fans shortly before the final whistle, but Messi’s shot hit the right post.
‘I get very calm when we have Leo on the pitch,’ midfielder Rodrigo De Paul said after the match. ‘We are at a very good level. We feel comfortable with the way we are playing.’
Paraguay’s new coach Daniel Garnero had his debut against Argentina, and his team gave little evidence of attacking power. The 54-year-old coach took over from Guillermo Barros Schelotto last month after the first two qualifiers.
Nicolas Otamendi scored the decisive goal in Buenos Aires as Argentina top the group
Messi missed four MLS matches for his club plus the U.S. Open Cup final. He played 10 minutes on Saturday in Inter Miami’s 1-0 loss to Cincinnati.
He also skipped Argentina’s 3-0 win at Bolivia in another World Cup qualifying match in September.
Ecuador beat Bolivia in La Paz 2-1 with a goal in the final moments of the match.
Kendry Paéz scored for the visitors shortly before the break, and Rodrigo Ramallo equalized in the 83rd minute. Kevin Rodriguez gave Ecuador its first three points in qualifying.
Chile beat Peru 2-0. Diego Valdéz scored the first in the 74th minute and an own goal by Marcos López finished the scoring in injury time.