The maximum return: Piero Hincapie comes back to Leverkusen from his home country of Ecuador with six points from two games. Last week's 1-0 win against Venezuela – Hincapie scored the only goal of the game – was followed overnight to Wednesday by a 2-0 victory over Chile. That means the gap for the third-placed team to the play-off position of fifth is now six points. Only Brazil (35 points) and Argentina (29) are ahead of Ecuador (23).
The clash in Santiago de Chile started positively for Hincapie and Co.: The visitors took the lead after nine minutes and the Chilean former Werkself player Arturo Vidal was shown a red card 15 minutes into the game. It took Ecuador a long time to increase their lead with the goal at 2-0 coming in added time (90+3).
There are four matchdays left in the South American World Cup qualifiers next year and if all goes well then Ecuador could qualify for the World Cup finals for a fourth time.
Argentina with Exequiel Palacios have definitely qualified for the finals in Qatar next year. The Albiceleste earned the crucial point with a goalless draw against Brazil with the Werkself player not appearing in this match. Argentina have a 12-point lead in second place but their opponents are taking points off each other. Congratulations, Pala.
Finland have no chance of playing Argentina and Co. in Qatar. They needed a win against France in group D of the European World Cup qualifiers but ended up with a 2-0 defeat – and Ukraine secured the play-off slot of second. Lukas Hradecky was in the Finnish goal for the full 90 minutes and Moussa Diaby was in the starting line-up for the other side. He was replaced on 57 minutes by Karim Benzema.
Edmond Tapsoba (Burkina Faso) and Odilon Kossounou (Ivory Coast) will also not be at the tournament. Both national teams needed a win in their respective top matches. Tapsoba and Co. ended up with a 2-2 draw against Algeria and the Ivorians with Kossounou suffered a 1-0 defeat against Cameroon. Tapsoba played the full game with his Leverkusen teammate just playing the first half.
Amine Adli experienced a successful end to the final international break of the year. The France U21s secured a 1-0 win against North Macedonia. The Werkself player came off four minutes before the only goal of the game 79 minutes. The Les Bleus youngsters continue in top spot in Group H in the U21 Euro qualifiers.
In Group D, the Dutch U21s clocked up a 7-0 victory over bottom of the table Gibraltar. Jeremie Frimpong remained on the bench. Frimpong and Co. have qualification for the European Championships in their own hands having played one game less and being three points behind but with a significantly better goal difference than the top team from Switzerland.
The Germany U19 team have maintained their lead over Greece: The side including Emrehan Gedikli, who was substituted late on, picked up a point (1-1). They have held on to second spot that would qualify them for the U 19 European Championships and they now have four points from three games.
There was also a draw in the top match in Group 8 – the Belgium and Spain U19s drew 2-2. The 16-year-old Bayer 04 youngster Iker Bravo came off the bench on the hour mark. Bravo and Co. are on course for the European Championships in second place level with group leaders Belgium.
Zidan Sertdemir and the Denmark U19s earned a 1-0 win against Portugal in a friendly. The youngster, who recently made his Bundesliga debut for Bayer 04, played the full 90 minutes.
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