Alisson books World Cup place as Takumi Minamino keeps hopes alive

Alisson kept a clean sheet to help Brazil become the first South American side to book their place at the 2022 World Cup, while Takumi Minamino assisted for Japan.

With Roberto Firmino out due to injury and Fabinho on the bench, Alisson was the sole Liverpool starter as Brazil hosted Colombia on Friday morning.

Knowing a victory could clinch progress from the CONMEBOL playoffs with five games to spare, Tite’s side sealed a close-fought 1-0 win in Sao Paulo.

It was a fiercely contested clash, with Alisson busy throughout despite Colombia rarely finding the target, while Neymar somehow escaped punishment for squaring up to the referee.

Neymar eventually set up the winner for Lucas Paqueta, as part of a slick passing move led by Marquinhos, with Alisson and substitute Fabinho both on the pitch as the full-time whistle signalled Brazil’s place in Qatar.

Takumi Minamino (JPN), September 10, 2019 - Football / Soccer : FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Asian Qualifier Second Round Group F match between Myanmar 0-2 Japan at Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar, (Photo by AFLO)

Elsewhere, Minamino helped keep Japan’s hopes of making the World Cup alive as he laid on the only goal in a 1-0 win over Vietnam.

With Australia and Saudi Arabia playing out a 0-0 draw, three points for Japan saw them move within one point of second place in Group B of the AFC qualifiers.

First and second place in the group will automatically qualify for the World Cup, while third will advance to the fourth qualifying round, with those three spots contested by Saudi Arabia (13 points), Australia (10 points), Japan (nine points) and Oman (seven points).

Diogo Jota and Caoimhin Kelleher were both unused substitutes as the Republic of Ireland held 10-man Portugal to a 0-0 draw.

Sadio Mane, Senegal National Team ( Gavin Barker/BackpagePix/Sports Inc/PA Images)

Kostas Tsimikas played 90 minutes as Greece lost 1-0 to Spain, while Sadio Mane was forced off with a rib injury in Senegal’s 1-1 draw with Togo – though manager Aliou Cisse insists it is “nothing serious.”

There were England debuts for both Tyler Morton and Terence Miles, with Morton joining Leighton Clarkson as a second-half substitute in the under-20s’ 2-0 loss to Portugal while Miles came off the bench as the under-18s lost 3-2 to the Netherlands.

Vitezslav Jaros was on the bench throughout the Czech Republic under-21s’ 3-1 loss to England.