Argentina crash, Brazil recover on road to World Cup finals

April 2nd, 2009 - 3:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Porto Alegre (Brazil)/La Paz/Quito, April 2 (DPA) Argentina suffered a stunning 6-1 thrashing in Bolivia, Brazil recovered with a 3-0 win at home against Peru and Paraguay managed to grab a late point with a 1-1 draw in Ecuador Wednesday in the South American qualifiers towards the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Chile and Uruguay drew 0-0, while a day earlier Venezuela beat Colombia 2-0.

Paraguay continued to top the table with 24 points in 12 games, followed by Brazil on 21 points and Chile on 20. Argentina were on 19, while Uruguay remained fifth with 17 points.

In South America’s World Cup qualifiers, each of the 10 sides plays each of the other nine teams at home and away. The top four win a place in the event. The fifth-placed team has a chance to advance through a play-off against a team from the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

“Bolivia was better than us,” Argentina coach Diego Maradona said. “We will have to start again.”

Argentina had not lost a game 6-1 since 1958.

Former world top scorer Joaquin Botero was the hat-trick hero for Bolivia. Botero, who scored 49 goals for Club Bolivar in 2002, scored from the spot in the first half and then added two in the second half to give Bolivia its huge victory against Maradona’s team.

Marcelo Martins put the hosts ahead in the 11th minute, but Luis Gonzalez equalised for the two-time world champions 13 minutes later. Botero gave his side the lead again in the 33rd minute, and Alex da Rosa widened the gap before the break.

Botero scored again in the 54th and the 65th minutes, while Didi Torrico made the final score 6-1 just three minutes before the end of the game, amid shouts of “Ole!” from the stands.

It is always difficult for visitors to deal with the high altitude of La Paz, more than 3,600 metres above sea level, but the result was far wider than any observer could have predicted.

Argentine television commentators called the performance “humiliating” and a “historic embarrassment” for the national team in its second competitive game under new coach Maradona, who called the result “inexplicable”.

Brazil - who had been held to goal-less draws in their past three home games in the qualifiers - fared a lot better than their arch-rivals. Although the team coached by Carlos Dunga did not put on a great performance, it did obtain a long-awaited 3-0 home win against Peru in the South American qualifiers.

A brace from Luis Fabiano and handsome effort from Felipe Melo settled things for the home side in Porto Alegre. Robinho put on an impressive first-half performance.

Luis Fabiano opened the score from the spot in the 17th minute, after Kaka was brought down on the box, while the Sevilla striker added a second goal 10 minutes later. In the second half, Melo sealed the result at 3-0.

Paraguay braced their position atop the qualifiers with a late goal that left the score 1-1 against Ecuador in Quito. Ecuador did a lot more than the visitors to take the three points at stake but missed too many chances.

In the 62nd minute, a Christian Noboa header - his first touch after coming off the bench - gave Ecuador the lead they were earning.

When Paraguay’s Paulo da Silva was sent off six minutes before the end of the game, the outcome appeared settled. In injury time, however, Edgar Benitez made the most of a series of defensive mistakes by Ecuador to deny the home side a deserving win.

Chile and Uruguay played out a goal-less draw in Santiago. Both teams obtained key wins over the weekend to boost their chances of playing in the World Cup and sought to build momentum Wednesday.

The qualifiers resume in June, following this week’s games.

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