Bolivia off to a flying start

Bolivia’s newly appointed coach, Zago, lifted his team from the bottom of South American FIFA World Cup qualifying (WCQ) by surpassing winless Peru in a hard-fought 2-0 victory. The win was secured through stunning goals from Henry and Ramiro Vaca.

After enduring four consecutive WCQ defeats, Bolivia’s former boss, Gustavo Costas, parted ways with just one win during his brief 10-game tenure. Zago, having guided Bolívar, the nation’s most successful domestic side, seemed fitting to rebuild a team that hasn’t secured a victory at the altitude in La Paz in the last six outings.

The match unfolded as a strategic battle, with both teams lacking confidence, having managed only two goals combined in the campaign so far. A breakthrough came midway through the first half with a moment of brilliance from Vaca. Previously scoring the only goal in their last meeting in La Paz during the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, H. Vaca seized the ball from captain Marcelo Martins, delivering an unstoppable 25-yard left-footed strike past Pedro Gallese.

Facing a team that conceded 11 goals in the previous four matches, Peru struggled to create promising opportunities. Their only significant attempts were a tame header from Gianluca Lapadula, easily saved by the opposing goalkeeper, and a long-range effort from substitute Luis Advíncula. The game was sealed moments before full time, as Vaca celebrated a VAR-assisted decision, firing home from the edge of the box. Bolivia survived a late penalty scare as Bryan Reyna was booked for simulation, securing victory over Peru for only the second time in their last 10 head-to-head encounters.