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Brazil Becomes First South American Team to Qualify for 2022 World Cup

With six qualifying matches and 12 months to go until the 2022 World Cup kicks off in Qatar, Brazil punched its ticket with a 1–0 win over Colombia on Thursday.

It took a late goal from Lyon midfielder Lucas Paquetá to hand the Brazilians the lead in the 72nd minute in a game in which they outshot their opponents 16–5. The victory puts Brazil at 34 points, enough to secure one of South America's four automatic berths to the competition. The fifth-place side goes to an intercontinental playoff for another spot.

Brazil has now stretched its lead atop the CONMEBOL table to nine points, continuing its remarkable undefeated qualifying run. Tite's squad has won 11 of 12 matches, conceding just four goals in the process. The win also continues Brazil's reign as the only men's national team to have qualified for every World Cup. Brazil joins host Qatar, Denmark and Germany as teams that have cemented their places in the field of 32.

While the qualifying journey has looked smooth in terms of results, it has not come without tumult. In the seventh minute of Brazil's qualifier against Argentina in early September, Brazilian government officials entered the pitch at Sao Paolo and stopped the match due to apparent COVID-19 protocol breaches by several Argentinian players. The match was not replayed, but the two South American giants meet again in San Juan on Tuesday.

Then just a month ago, 29-year-old superstar Neymar said in a documentary that the Qatar World Cup may well be his last. 

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“I am facing it like the last World Cup because I don’t know whether I will be able to, mentally, to endure more soccer," he said.

The Paris Saint-Germain winger has scored seven goals and added seven assists in just eight qualifying games for his home country.

Despite the added emotional backdrop and COVID-19 turmoil, Brazil has churned its way to the World Cup once again, as it always has.

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