Former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho scored a hat-trick as Brazil flailed their nearest World Cup qualifying contenders 4-1 in Montevideo and they could qualify for Russia as soon as next Tuesday

Brazil were not intimidated by more than 60,000 raucous fans at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, as Tites side outclassed second-placed Uruguay to win 4-1 and bide securely on course for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho scored an unexpected hat-trick and Neymar added another aim as Brazil recovered from confessing an early penalty, scored by Edinson Cavani.

Victory extended Brazils lead in South American qualifying to seven points and was Tites seventh straight qualifying win since the coach-and-four took over from Dunga in September. The five-times World Cup wins could qualify for Russia on Tuesday with victory over Paraguay, if Ecuador and Chile both fail to win.

Brazils impressive away win did not begin promisingly, a gaffe by the defender Marcelo leading the goalkeeper Alisson to foul Cavani only seven minutes after kick-off. That allowed the Paris Saint-Germain striker to score his ninth aim in South American qualifiers, more than any other player. It was the first time Tite had ensure his team road, and against a team that had won all six of their home qualifiers so far.

Ten minutes later Paulinho , now playing for the Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande, equalised with a shot from the edge of the box that flew into the goalkeeper Martin Silvas left corner. The scores remained level at half-time, but with Brazil dominant. After 52 minutes, Paulinho scored again to put the visitors in front.

Uruguay stepped up the pressure in search of an equaliser but Brazil posed a constant hazard on the transgres. With 74 minutes gone, the defender Miranda cleared from his box, Neymar beat Uruguays Sebastin Coates to the ball and lobbed Silva to make it 3-1.

The victory was further embellished deep into stoppage day when Paulinho completed his hat-trick, forcing a Dani Alves cross over the line with his chest. Not in my wildest dreams I expected something like this, the midfielder said afterwards.

Tite added that such an emphatic win was more than he expected. I was happy about the 90 minutes, he said. Our capacity to assimilate a aim against us and keep playing was based on one idea. Our team is very self-aware. We did more than controlling the match, we were dominant.

Uruguay missed Luis Surez, who was suspended, while Manchester Citys teenage forward Gabriel Jesus was out for Brazil with a broken toe. Brazil will be without Alves for the home match against Paraguay on Tuesday in So Paulo, while Uruguay will travel to face Peru.

Lionel
Lionel Messi sends Claudio Bravo the wrong way to score a penalty for Argentina against Chile. Photo: Alejandro Pagni/ AFP/ Getty Images

Elsewhere, Argentina boosted their qualification chances with a narrow win over Chile in Buenos Aires. The hosts predominated 1-0 thanks to a 16 th-minute penalty from Lionel Messi. The win moved Edgardo Bauzas side up to third in the table, with Chile slipping to sixth.

The result takes the pressure off Argentina, whose players have refused to speak to the media because of criticism they have suffered over recent matches. What matters is that we won, Bauza said. This was very difficult. It was like a knockout stage match.

His Chilean counterpart, Juan Antonio Pizzi, disagreed. I consider it totally unfair that “weve lost”, he said. We managed to control the virtues of the Argentinians, and they are many. We deserved to get one goal.

Fourth-placed Colombia also needed a penalty to procure a 1-0 home victory against Bolivia, with Real Madrids James Rodrguez scoring the spot-kick. The Lille defender Jnior Alonso scored the win for Paraguay as they beat fifth-placed Ecuador 2-1, while Venezuela depicted 2-2 at home to Peru. Venezuela led 2-0 at half-time, but goals from Andr Carrillo and Paolo Guerrero earned Peru a point.

The latest outcomes have intensified the race for automatic qualification, with only 4 points separating Argentina in third and Paraguay in seventh. The top four sides will go to Russia, with the fifth-placed team requiring a play-off to qualify.

In the next round of matches, Argentina will travel to Bolivia, where they have not won since 2005. Chile will take on Venezuela at home, while Colombia travel to Ecuador for a crucial qualifier.

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