In San Salvador I went to watch the qualifiers in Sports bar called Strikers. A nice place that was full of Colombians and a few Peruvians to what promised to be a clash as we were also watching the scores of the other matches in South America.
Argentina needed a victory in Quito, and it looked bleak as they went down 1-0 after one minute. But none other than Lionel Messi scored three goals to give them a victory and a spot in Russia.
The World Cup would not be the same without Argentina and Messi, so we should all celebrate.
In the meantime Uruguay got their expected qualification with a 4-2 victory over Bolivia, while Paraguay destroyed their own hopes by losing 0-1 at home to Venezuela (and watch out for the young Venezuelan side in the future!).
As all this was happening Peru and Colombia were playing a nervous match until Strikers exploded with two goals: James scored for Colombia as Brazil went ahead against Chile. This meant Colombia were qualified. Paolo Guerrero equalized for Peru, who needed a win, and Colombia seemed nervous, but it didn't matter: Brazil ended up trouncing the defending South American champions 3-0, meaning that all of a sudden Chile were out.
Colombia are in Russia while Peru are in the playoffs against New Zealand.
It was all too much in one of the most excitng qualification nights ever, but it did not stop there as we swithched over to the CONCACAF qualifiers, where nothing was going as expected: USA was losing 2-1 to Trinidad & Tobago, Honduras was winning 3-2 against Mexico, and just as we started watching Gabriel Torres gave Panama a 2-1 lead against Costa Rica.
It ended like this, and that means Panama are in Russia, Honduras are in a playoff against Australia and the USA can go home.
Granted, Panama qualified with a non-goal, but that doesn't take away that USA lost it themselves. The team has lost five matches, and they were outright arrogant in many of their matches. They have to face it: despite the advances, and MLS and all that, USA is still only a mid-ranking CONCACAF nation. The World Cup is much better without the USA!
A great evening in San Salvador as we look forward to a final round of playoffs to find out about the last teams in Russia.