Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Sun 6 September 2009

World Cup Round-Up: Part 2 - South America

Brazil became the seventh team to book their place at the World Cup Finals next year with a convincing 3-1 win over Argentina yesterday.

Diego Maradona's team started off the game purposefully, roared on by the fervent Rosario crowd, but Brazil exposed their defensive frailties with two goals in a six-minute spell mid-way through the first half.

The first goal came from an Elano free kick which found Luisao unmarked and in acres of space. It would have been churlish of him not to take advantage of such poor marking in the box, and so he headed in perfectly to give the visitors the lead on 24 minutes.

Shortly after, another free kick gave Luis Fabiano the chance to score from close range as Argentina failed to clear a number of scrambled efforts in front of their goal. Into the second half, Argentina pressed on for a goal and with 66 minutes on the clock they got one courtesy of a superb long-range shot from Napoli's Jesus Datolo, but their joy would be short-lived.

Just two minutes later, Luis Fabiano scored his second and Brazil's third which effectively snuffed out any momentum the tiring Argentineans had gained. Brazil ran out as comfortable winners - surprisingly so in many ways - and became the first team to qualify from South America.

It was only Argentina's second ever home defeat in World Cup qualifying and they remain fourth in the group. (Only the top four are certain of going through to South Africa while fifth place guarantees a play-off against the fourth-best team from the CONCACAF region.) Though it's unlikely that Argentina will miss out on a place in the finals, their poor away form could give them reason to sweat all the way to the bitter end, and Maradona will be more than well aware of that.

Argentina's place looks all the more precarious as they're now five points adrift of Paraguay in third who returned to form with a 1-0 win over lowly Bolivia. Slavador Cabanas' penalty at the end of the first half proved to be the only high point for the home side, but it does mean that a win over Argentina on Wednesday will give Paraguay a golden ticket to the Finals next year too.

Chile remain in second place despite surprisingly failing to beat Venezuela in Santiago yesterday. Having taken the lead after 10 minutes through Bayer Leverkusen's Arturo Vidal, Venezuela hit back with two goals of their own in the closing exchanges of the first half. A left-footed drive from Rodrigo Millar ensured Chile had a share of the points on the night, but they'll be looking to improve when they meet Brazil on Wednesday.

Uruguay's shock 1-0 defeat to bottom-placed Peru means they now slip to seventh after Colombia beat Ecuador 2-0 to go sixth. Both Colombia's goals came in the last ten minutes and means they've now taken six points from the last six. A last ditch run of form may prove enough to catch Ecuador and Uruguay who have both seen their great starts fritter away, however another three points against Chile this week will be the litmus test of whether then can genuinely maintain their current head of steam.

Full results and standings from the South American qualifying zone available here.

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