Barranquilla (Colombia), Oct 12: Colombia qualified for their first World Cup since 1998 Friday, overturning a three-goal deficit with a dramatic 3-3 draw against 10-man Chile.
Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez netted twice and Arturo Vidal added another before half-time as Chile looked set for a shock victory at Estadio Metropolitano, Xinhua reported. But Carlos Carmona’s second yellow card for handball just after the hour changed the course of the match.
Shortly after, Teofilo Gutierrez bundled the ball in after a penalty-area scramble and the goal provided the spark the hosts needed.
Monaco striker Radamel Falcao landed the decisive blows by coolly converting two penalties after fouls by Francisco Silva and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, both on James Rodriguez.
“At half-time we told each other that we could come back,” a jubilant Falcao said after the match. “Thankfully we were able to turn it around, we couldn’t leave Barranquilla with a loss.”
Meanwhile Ecuador secured at least a play-off berth at next year’s tournament in Brazil with a 1-0 victory over Uruguay in Quito.
Jefferson Montero struck for the hosts in the 30th minute as Reinaldo Rueda’s team ended a four-match winless streak.
Colombia will travel to Paraguay; Chile host Ecuador and Uruguay are at home to Argentina – the only other South American team to already qualify -in the final round of matches Tuesday.
The top four teams from the Conmebol zone earn automatic qualification while the fifth will vie for a spot against the fifth ranked team from Asia.