Lucas Paqueta’s second-half goal secured Brazil’s path to next year’s World Cup with a 1-0 win over Colombia, qualifying with six games to spare.
The victory was the Selecao’s 11th in 12 matches of qualifiers, putting them 18 points ahead of Chile and Colombia, who sit fourth and fifth respectively with 16 points.
Chile and Colombia can add only 15 points from their five remaining games, with the top four teams in South America the only ones who can earn direct entry to the World Cup.
Celebrations at the NeoQuimica Arena were discreet on the pitch after a hard-fought match with little inspiration from both sides. But they stepped up a level in the Brazil dressing room as players waved a Qatari flag and chanted, with FIFA and South American soccer body CONMEBOL joining to congratulate the first team from the region to secure a place in next year’s World Cup.
How Brazil lined up
Brazil:Alisson, Danilo, Marquinhos, Silva, Sandro, Fred, Casemiro, Paqueta, Rafinha, Jesus, Neymar.
Subs: Fabinho, Antony, Vinicius Junior, Cunha.
Hosts Qatar, Germany and Denmark are the only other sides to have secured their places so far.
Paqueta’s only goal of the game came after Marquinhos found Neymar in the middle of the Colombia defence.
Neymar quickly passed to Paqueta, who beat goalkeeper David Ospina with a low shot across goal which nestled in the bottom corner, despite Ospina’s touch. It was one of few opportunities created by Brazil during the match.
Brazil will be without midfielder Casemiro in Tuesday’s match at Argentina due to a yellow card, with Fabinho his likely replacement.
Brazil sealed qualification by earning coach Tite his 50th win from his 67-game tenure. Tite took over Brazil in the middle of qualifying for the World Cup in Russia in 2018, and his team were knocked out by Belgium 2-1 in the quarter-finals in Russia.