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Ruthless Argentina, Brazil romp home in World Cup ties
By Brian Homewood
RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 9 (Reuters)
- Argentina and Brazil scored crushing victories in Saturday's World Cup qualifiers, the former beating Uruguay 4-2 in Buenos Aires and the world champions romping home 5-2 in Venezuela.
Argentina, playing their first match under new coach Jose Pekerman, raced into a 4-0 lead after 54 minutes with a Luciano Figueroa double and a goal apiece from Luis Gonzalez and Javier Zanetti.
Cristian Rodriguez and Javier Chevanton, from a twice-taken penalty, made the scoreline respectable for Uruguay.
Two goals each from Kaka and Ronaldo and one by Adriano, seven minutes after coming off the substitutes' bench, put Brazil 5-0 ahead in Maracaibo.
Ruberth Moran then pulled two back, doubling Venezuela's tally of goals in their 16 meetings with Brazil, who have won them all.
Venezuela could be in serious trouble after two fans went on to the field in the second half to hug Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo.
In other games, Colombia wasted a hatful of chances as they were held 1-1 by Paraguay in Barranquilla while Bolivia stayed bottom of the group table despite beating Peru 1-0 in a scrappy match in La Paz.
As the South American World Cup qualifying section reaches the halfway mark, Brazil lead with 19 points from nine games with Argentina one point behind. Both look certain to qualify for Germany 2006.
They are followed by Paraguay (15), Chile (12), Ecuador, Uruguay, Venezuela (10) and Colombia, Peru and Bolivia (9). Ecuador and Chile complete the weekend's programme in Quito on Sunday.
The top four teams qualify for the finals and the fifth play off against the Oceania region winners for another place.
Pekerman, who took over last month after Marcelo Bielsa unexpectedly ended his six-year reign, admitted to first-night nerves against Uruguay but they were quickly calmed by Gonzalez's sixth-minute opener.
Figueroa, standing in for the injured Hernan Crespo, and Zanetti finished off incisive moves to make it 3-0 before halftime and then Figueroa latched on to Juan Roman Riquelme's pass for the fourth goal.
"I was nervous at the start, it was a new experience," Pekerman told reporters.
"Fortunately, Argentina were very efficent in the first half. We took our chances and that knocked Uruguay out of their stride."
Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira had similar sentiments after his team's win.
Two Kaka goals put the world champions in command at halftime before Ronaldo struck twice in three minutes early in the second period to take his tally to nine in the qualifiers.
"Venezuela don't have the decisiveness we have in attack and that is the difference, that's why we deserved to win," said Parreira.
Colombia coach Reinaldo Rueda lamented his team's wastefulness after they had only Freddy Grisales's deflected goal to show for outclassing Paraguay in the first half.
The visitors, notoriously difficult opponents, hit back with an Aureliano Torres goal in the 78th minute.
"Colombia played well but we committed one sin, we didn't convert the chances we created," said Rueda, whose team missed an opportunity to climb to fifth.
"We're still in an embarrassing position...and we have to make up lost ground."
Joaquin Botero's fifth strike of the qualifiers gave Bolivia three points against Peru in a scrappy, bad-tempered game.
The match degenerated in the 84th minute when Bolivia midfielder Luis Gatty Ribeiro was sent off for kicking Juan Jayo in the face.
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