March 29, 2017 / 7:34 AM / 4 months ago

Brazil become first team to qualify for World Cup

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Football Soccer - Brazil v Paraguay - World Cup 2018 Qualifiers - Arena Corinthians stadium, Sao Paulo, Brazil - 28/3/17 - Brazil's Marcelo (16) scores a goal against Paraguay's goalkeeper Antony Silva.Nacho Doce

ZURICH (Reuters) - Brazil have become the first team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, maintaining their proud record as the tournament's only ever-present side with a little help from Lionel Messi's foul mouth and lightly-regarded Peru.

The five-times champions beat Paraguay 3-0 on Tuesday for their eighth successive win in the South American qualifying competition.

That in itself was not enough to confirm their participation in Russia but Peru's surprise 2-1 win over Uruguay in a later game guaranteed Brazil a top-four finish.

With four rounds of fixtures remaining, Brazil have 33 points, followed by Colombia (24), Uruguay and Chile (23). Argentina (22) are currently in fifth place, which earns a two-legged playoff against the top-ranked Oceania region side.

Football Soccer - Brazil v Paraguay - World Cup 2018 Qualifiers - Arena Corinthians stadium, Sao Paulo, Brazil - 28/3/17 - A Brazil's fan celebrates with a flag of Russia, the host of the World Cup 2018.Paulo Whitaker

Uruguay and Argentina still have to face each other which means it is impossible for both to overtake Brazil.

Argentina dropped down the standings after losing 2-0 away to Bolivia at high altitude in La Paz, weakened by the absence of Messi as he began a four-match suspension.

Football Soccer - Brazil v Paraguay - World Cup 2018 Qualifiers - Arena Corinthians stadium, Sao Paulo, Brazil - 28/3/17 - Brazil's Neymar celebrates his goal.Paulo Whitaker

The five-times world player of the year was banned less than six hours before kickoff for swearing at a linesman in the previous match, a 1-0 win over Chile.

He will now only be available for the last of Argentina's games, a potentially key match in Ecuador.

Russia are guaranteed a place as hosts.

Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by John O'Brien

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