Argentina win, Paraguay lead South American World Cup qualifiers

October 12th, 2008 - 2:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Buenos Aires, Oct 12 (DPA) Paraguay kept up its lead in the South American qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup football in South Africa, while Argentina got back on track with their first win in their last six games.Paraguay has 20 points from nine matches in the qualifiers, exactly half the games to be played. Argentina is second with 16 points, while Brazil and Chile have 13 points with a game in hand each.

In South America’s 10-team World Cup qualifiers, each side plays each of the other nine teams at home and away. The top four win a place in the World Cup. The fifth-ranking team has a chance to advance if it wins a playoff against a representative of the North, Central American and Caribbean region.

The solid Paraguayan side beat Colombia 1-0 in Bogota Saturday. Colombian keeper Agustin Julio appeared to miscalculate, letting in a long-distance shot by striker Salvador Cabanas in the ninth minute.

Earlier, in Buenos Aires, Argentina beat Uruguay 2-1. In a very tough game, in which Argentine players complained that the referee was too permissive with Uruguayan players, Argentina made the most of a good start.

Argentine superstar Lionel Messi scored only five minutes into the game with a header off a pass from Juan Roman Riquelme, who had been lucky to get the ball from a rebound off Paraguayan referee Carlos Torres.

In the 13th minute, Esteban Cambiasso’s header hit the post, but striker Sergio Aguero picked up the rebound and was on target to make the score 2-0.

The talented, attack-oriented Argentine side looked ready to soar, but Uruguay captain Diego Lugano made the most of a mistake by the host defence to score in the 39th minute.

Argentina could have obtained a more comfortable win, but its strikers were imprecise with several good chances.

“At times we played well, at times we fought. We did what we had to do,” midfielder Cambiasso said.

Of their last five games in the qualifiers before Saturday, Argentina had lost away in Colombia and then drew against Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay and Peru. Moreover, they had shown poor performances to go with the disappointing results, and their fans were growing restless.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez admitted that Argentina deserved to win the game.

“We made many mistakes in the first half, and you cannot make those mistakes against a team of such high quality as Argentina,” Tabarez acknowledged.

“We needed to win again,” Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano said.

He described the referee’s performance as “shameful,” while an angry coach Alfio Basile said it was “a crazy thing.”

“It was incredible how they kicked,” Basile said of Uruguayan players.

Earlier Saturday, Bolivia defeated Peru 3-0. At an altitude of 3,600 metres in La Paz, Joaquin Botero scored in the 4th and the 16th minutes, and Ronald Garcia added a third goal 10 minutes before the end of the game.

The result left Peru bottom of the qualifiers’ table with seven points in nine games, while Bolivia are on eight. Venezuela also have seven points but a game in hand, at home Sunday against Brazil.

“Our virtue was to go into the game putting pressure on them, and we scored the goals in fundamental moments in the match,” said Bolivian coach Erwin Sanchez.

Sanchez had to direct his side’s performance from the stands, because he has been suspended for three games after being sent off in Ecuador.

Sunday features Venezuela-Brazil and Ecuador-Chile.

The qualifiers continue Tuesday with Bolivia-Uruguay, followed by Wednesday’s action between Paraguay-Peru, Chile-Argentina, Venezuela-Ecuador and Brazil-Colombia.

A break in the qualifying round will follow, with the next games to be played late March.

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