Soccer-Uruguay battle Argentina to predictable stalemate

Uruguay and Argentina drew 0-0 in an uninspiring but hotly contested World Cup qualifier in Montevideo on Thursday, a result that leaves both sides still needing points to guarantee a place at Russia 2018. The home side had the better of the first half and Argentina were on top during the second period but neither team posed much of a goal threat in a typically tense encounter. Uruguay’s Diego Rodin had a goal chalked off for offside in the first half and Luis Suarez saw his 45-yard attempt to lob keeper Sergio Romero sail narrowly over. At the other end, Lucas Biglia had a 30-yard strike deflected just wide and Lionel Messi saw a shot turned around the post after a brilliant, jinking run and one-two with Paulo Dybala. Suarez, who recovered from a right knee injury just in time to play, limped off with eight minutes left. The result means Uruguay, who have now gone six games without a win, remain in third place with 24 points, while Argentina are fifth with 23 points, behind Chile on goal difference. Brazil, who have already qualified for Russia, lead the table with 33 points and play Ecuador later on Thursday. Second-placed Colombia drew 0-0 at bottom side Venezuela. The top four teams qualify automatically for Russia 2018 and the fifth-placed side goes into a play-off against a rival from the Oceania confederation. In the region's other game on Thursday, Artur Vidal scored a spectacular own goal as Chile lost 3-0 at home to Paraguay. Vidal dived to head out a Paraguay free kick midway through the first half but his header soared into the corner of his own net. Victor Caceres doubled the lead nine minutes into the second period and Richard Ortiz added a third in injury time. Argentina now play Venezuela at home on Tuesday, while Uruguay take on Paraguay in Asuncion the same day. (Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ian Ransom)