Miranda Brazil Neymar
Brazil players Miranda and Neymar celebrate a goal against Colombia, Sep.6, 2016Reuters

No Lionel Messi, no win for Argentina; yes Neymar, yes win for Brazil. After Messi flew back to Barcelona due to injury, Argentina failed to pick up the victory necessary to keep their top spot in the South American 2018 World Cup qualifying table, allowing the rest of the teams, including Brazil, to take advantage.

After Argentina could only manage a 2-2 draw with bottom-of-the-pack Venezuela, Brazil did enough to beat Colombia in Manaus. Neymar, expectedly, was the match-winner, striking the winning goal in the 74th minute to give Brazil all three points and pull them level with Argentina on 15 points from eight matches.

Uruguay currently lead the table on 16 points, after their comfortable 4-0 win over Paraguay. Edinson Cavani opened the scoring for Uruguay in the 18th minute, before Cristian Rodriguez doubled their lead three minutes from halftime.

Suarez put the game to bed in first half stoppage time with a goal from the penalty spot, before Cavani completed his brace early in the second to give Uruguay a comprehensive win.

In Merida, Argentina failed to pick up all three points from a match they really should have won. Venezuela had picked up just one point from seven games coming into this match, but it was the home side who took control of the contest.

Juanpi scored the first goal of the match in the 34th minute, before Venezuela went 2-0 up thanks to Josef Martinez's strike. However, Argentina fought back through Lucas Pratto, who made it 2-1 on 58 minutes, and Nicolas Otamendi, who netted the equaliser seven minutes from the 90.

While they at least salvaged a point, Argentina will know it is two points dropped, and, who knows, had Messi, who returned to his club owing to a persistent groin injury, been there in the lineup, this match would probably have not even been close.

In Manaus, Neymar was the hero for Brazil, again. Miranda opened the scoring for the home team in just the second minute of the game, but a Marquinhos own goal meant the score was locked at 1-1 at halftime.

When his team needed him the most, though, Neymar stepped up another time, firing home the winner in the 74th minute to take Brazil to one of the automatic qualifying places.

The two-time Copa America champions Chile's struggles in World Cup qualifying continued as Bolivia held them to a goalless draw in Santiago. If Chile do not find their form soon, they will miss the flight to Russia, with Alexis Sanchez and co. currently in seventh, on 11 points from eight matches.

In the last match of the day, Ecuador's nosedive after a bright start to the qualifying campaign continued, after they went down 2-1 to Peru. Christian Cueva scored the first goal for Peru, before Gabriel Achilier levelled the proceedings just past the half hour. Renato Tapia, though, would have the final say, finding the winner for Peru 12 minutes from time.

Despite three losses in a row in World Cup qualifying, Ecuador are still in a solid position, as they are only three points off the leaders.

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