Brazil, Argentina draw 0-0 in South American World Cup qualifier

June 19th, 2008 - 2:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Belo Horizonte (Brazil), June 19 (DPA) Brazil and Argentina drew 0-0 at the Mineirao stadium here in the South American qualifiers for the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa. In other games played Wednesday, Bolivia made the most of the high altitude in La Paz to beat Paraguay 4-2 and leave the bottom of the table, while Ecuador were held to a goalless draw by Colombia in Quito.

Paraguay was the lone leader in the qualifiers so far and remained in that comfortable position despite losing to lowly Bolivia. The Paraguayans have 13 points in six games, two more than Argentina and three more than Colombia. Brazil is fourth with nine points.

In the first game in 20 years between the archrivals Brazil and Argentina which ended in a goalless draw, Argentina had more chances of winning the game, but Lionel Messi and Julio Cruz were not on target.

The first half failed to show a lot of quality football, although Brazil took charge with more elaborate play close to half-time.

The second half of the match was livelier with Argentina managing to put its midfield to work for Messi, who caused the Brazilian defence to sweat; but he failed to score.

Brazil did not look as apathetic as in their weekend game against Paraguay - which they lost 0-2 - but they still lacked the precision and creativity that has traditionally characterized their play.

“The whole team ran, defended and we did not lose high balls. We had several chances, they also had theirs,” Brazilian coach Carlos Dunga said at a press conference after the game.

They continued to miss the talent of injured Kaka or out-of-form Ronaldinho, and Robinho was not convincing although he was again the most active Brazilian in the team’s attack.

Robinho and Julio Baptista off the rebound had good chances for the hosts in the 23rd minute, but keeper Roberto Abbondanzieri did well to contain the efforts.

Two minutes later, Robinho tried again with a solo effort but was stopped by Argentine defenders.

The draw favoured the Argentines, who remain second in the qualifying round table, while Brazil - the winner of five World Cups - is fourth with 9 points and could even slip to fifth if the game between Venezuela and Chile on Thursday does not end in a draw.

After the game, Argentine players were visibly happy with their performance, despite their failure to score.

“We think we played a good game,” said midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme. “Perhaps we deserved to win.”

Brazilian fans booed their players on several occasions, particularly when they passed the ball back, and aimed insults like “burro” (donkey) and shouts of “adeus” (goodbye) at Brazil coach Dunga.

Along with a crowd of some 60,000 people at the Mineirao, Ronaldinho and new Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho watched the game from the stands.

Paraguay, the only team that remained unbeaten after five games in the qualifiers, could not come out from the 3,600-metre altitude of La Paz unscathed and lost 4-2 at the Hernando Siles stadium.

Joaquin Botero scored twice for the hosts, and Ronald Garcia and Marcelo Martins added a goal each. Striker Roque Santa Cruz made things 2-1 in the 66th minute, while Nelson Haedo Valdez scored for the final 4-2.

“We could never get comfortably into the game, and above all we were unable to run as we usually run, and Bolivia won the game well. Today it was our turn to play badly,” said Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino.

In Quito, hosts Ecuador attacked persistently and had some clear chances on Colombia’s goal, but failed to score and let valuable points slip away.

In South America’s 10-team World Cup qualifiers, each side plays home and away with each of the other nine. The top four finishers win a place in the World Cup, with the fifth-place team facing a representative of the North, Central American and Caribbean region in a playoff.

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