Soccer-Peru strike late to beat Colombia in crunch qualifier

Soccer Football - World Cup - South American Qualifiers - Colombia v Peru - Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez, Barranquilla, Colombia - January 28, 2022 Peru's Edison Flores celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

BARRANQUILLA, Colombia (Reuters) -Edison Flores scored a late goal for Peru to give the Andean side a 1-0 win away at Colombia on Friday and boost their chances of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Halftime substitute Flores struck after 85 minutes to give Peru their third consecutive win and lift them on to 20 points and fourth place in the 10-team South America section, a point ahead of Uruguay.

The top four teams qualify automatically for Qatar and the fifth-place side go into a playoff with a team from the Asian confederation.

Brazil and Argentina have already guaranteed their spots and Ecuador in third place are almost certain to join them. Colombia are in sixth, with 17 points.

Colombia and Peru started the night tied on 17 points and though the home side made most of the running, they were hurt by their old failings in front of goal.

Friday's game was their sixth qualifier in a row without finding the back of the net.

Peru had only two shots at goal, compared to Colombia's 20, and Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese made some fine saves to keep his team in the game.

Goals were not a problem in Friday's other match, where Venezuela hammered Bolivia 4-1. The result still leaves Venezuela, the only South American team never to have reached the World Cup finals, bottom of the group with 10 points and out the running for a place in Qatar. Bolivia are five points above them in ninth.

Salomon Rondon grabbed a hat trick and Darwin Machis scored another for the home side, who recorded only their third win in 15 qualifying games.

Bruno Miranda got Bolivia's consolation.

Venezuela's next game is away against Uruguay on Tuesday, while Bolivia are at home to Chile the same night. Peru play Ecuador and Colombia are away to Argentina.

(Reporting by Andrew DownieEditing by Christian Radnedge and Rosalba O'Brien)

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