Friday, October 19, 2007

Argentina on top as Brazil hit form

THE DAY REPLAYED - Argentina took another significant step towards the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ when they secured their second consecutive win to move out front in the group after just two rounds of matches.

Elsewhere there were maiden wins for Brazil, Paraguay and Chile, who saw off neighbours Peru in the Pacific derby, while Bolivia failed to capitalise on home advantage and shared the points with Colombia in La Paz. As usual is on hand to round up all the highlights.

Match of the day
Chile 2 - 0 Peru
Scorers: Humberto Suazo 11, Matias Fernandez 52

The stakes were high ahead of the Pacific derby in Santiago and the big match duly lived up to its billing as Chile and Peru served up a tight, not to say fraught, encounter. It was La Roja who deservedly pocketed the points, with ex-Colo Colo duo Humberto Suazo and Matias Fernandez putting a smile back on coach Marcelo Bielsa's face with goals in each half. Suazo got the ball rolling with an 11th-minute header before strike partner Fernandez sealed the points from Arturo Vidal's sublime assist.

After Saturday's stalemate with Paraguay, the defeat leaves Jose Del Solar's men at the wrong end of the table and with much to ponder.

Surprise of the day
Although shocks were thin on the ground on matchday two, many will be surprised to see Ecuador floundering at the bottom of the standings. After gracing Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006 Luis Suarez's side need to find some inspiration and quickly if they are to maintain realistic hopes of a third successive finals appearance.

Player of the day
Agustin Julio (COL)

With experienced custodians such as Farid Mondragon, Oscar Cordoba and Miguel Calero all in the twilight of their careers, the search has been on for a worthy successor in the Colombian goal. While hardly in the first flush of youth himself, 32-year-old shotstopper Agustin Julio has staked a compelling claim for an extended run between the posts. The Deportes Tolima man was the Cafeteros' stand-out performer in La Paz, reeling off a string of spectacular stops, confident catches and flying saves to thwart Erwin Sanchez's charges and keep his goal intact for the second game in a row.

Goal of the day
Brazil 5 - 0 Ecuador
Kaka 77

Fernandez's fine match-sealing strike for Chile caught the eye, but the Villarreal man was eclipsed by another wonder goal from the peerless Kaka. After setting up Ronaldinho for Brazil's second of the night against Ecuador, the first of the AC Milan midfielder's brace saw him lash a thunderous right-footed drive into the top left-hand corner of Daniel Viteri's net.

It may still be early days, but it already seems clear that no-one will be having an easy time of it away from home. The only winners on the road this week were group leaders Argentina, who recorded a relatively comfortable 2-0 win over Venezuela thanks to first-half goals from Gabriel Milito and Lionel Messi.

Desperately hoping for a home win to give their qualification bid some momentum, Bolivia had to be content with a 0-0 draw against Colombia, who have yet to score and yet to concede. Paraguay showed the Bolivians how it was done by securing a trademark 1-0 defeat of Uruguay in Asuncion, the goal coming from Nelson Haedo Valdez after 14 minutes. Following their big win at the weekend, it was a disappointing evening for the Celeste, who failed to make the hosts pay for their continuing struggles in front of goal.

Seven years on from their last appearance at the Maracana it was business as usual for Brazil. Back in 2000 Bolivia were on the wrong end of a 5-0 thrashing, and on Wednesday evening it was Ecuador's turn to get the five-star treatment as the hosts romped to a similarly emphatic win. Sporting unfamiliar blue tops, the bemused visitors struggled manfully to hold their own after Vagner Love put the hosts ahead 19 minutes in. The floodgates opened in the final half-hour, however, Ronaldinho, Kaka (2) and Elano getting the goals as the continental champions ominously manoeuvred themselves into second place in the table, just behind Argentina.

The numbers game
Javier Zanetti will always remember his side's 2-0 defeat of Venezuela. The evergreen full-back equalled Roberto Ayala's record of 115 appearances for the Albiceleste in Maracaibo, deserved recompense for the Inter Milan skipper after he missed out on a place at Germany 2006.

Coming up
South America's finest are back in qualifying action on 17 and 18 November with five more games on matchday three: Argentina-Bolivia, Paraguay-Ecuador, Peru-Brazil, Colombia-Venezuela and Uruguay-Chile. The fourth round of matches takes place two days later.

Tuesday 16 October
Venezuela 0-2 Argentina
Wednesday 17 October
Bolivia 0-0 Colombia
Paraguay 1-0 Uruguay
Chile 2-0 Peru
Brazil 5-0 Ecuador

Download Goals

Venezuela 0-2 Argentina


Brazil 5-0 Ecuador


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