Darwin Núñez and Nicolás de la Cruz scored to give Uruguay a 2-0 win over Brazil in their 2026 World Cup qualifier as Neymar was forced off with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.
Uruguay rose to second in the standings, five points behind Argentina, who beat Peru 2-0 in Lima, where Lionel Messi’s two goals made him the outright all-time top scorer in South American World Cup qualifying.
Núñez put Uruguay ahead in the 42nd minute with a diving header and Brazil’s night went from bad to worse two minutes later when Neymar went down after tussling for the ball with De la Cruz.
Visibly distressed, Neymar left the pitch on a stretcher after receiving treatment for several minutes. Brazil football federation sources said the forward, who plays for Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia, had sustained a severe left knee sprain and would undergo tests to determine whether there was ligament damage.
Neymar reacts after sustaining a knee injury that forced him off. Photograph: Andres Cuenca/Reuters
De la Cruz extended the hosts’ lead with a close-range effort in the 77th minute, with Núñez providing the assist, to seal Uruguay’s first win over Brazil since 2001.
Brazil had much of the possession in a dour first half but had nothing to show for it and conceded from the game’s first effort at goal. Brazil ended with no shots on target and lost a World Cup qualifier for the first time since 2015 after 37 games unbeaten. They are level on points with Uruguay and Venezuela, who beat Chile 3-0.
Messi had started the night level with Uruguay’s Luis Suárez at the top of the Conmebol World Cup qualifying goalscoring list and two first-half goals took his tally to 31. The 36-year-old put the world champions ahead in the 32nd minute with a superb shot after an assist from Nicolás González and made it 2-0 10 minutes later with a fierce finish from Enzo Fernández’s pass.
Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his and Argentina’s second goal in Peru. Photograph: Mariana Bazo/Getty Images
Messi, denied a hat-trick in the second half when he had a goal disallowed for offside, said: “This team is incredible – every time they play they are very close to being the best in history. On a game level I think we have grown. After winning the World Cup we are confident, very loose, more united and firm.” Argentina host Uruguay on 16 November before taking on Brazil five days later.
Paraguay earned their first win as they beat the bottom side Bolivia 1-0 in Asunción, and Ecuador were held 0-0 by Colombia.