Moran double puts Venezuela back in World Cup hunt
SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela, Oct 14 (Reuters) -
Ruberth Moran scored twice for Venezuela in a 3-1 victory over Ecuador on Thursday, as the home side put their World Cup qualification campaign back on track after a string of poor results.
Bouncing back from Saturday's 5-2 home defeat by Brazil, Venezuela moved up three places to sixth in the 10-nation South American qualifying group on 13 points from 10 games, behind Ecuador and Chile on goal difference.
The top four teams qualify directly for Germany 2006 while the fifth-placed finisher plays off against the Oceania representative for another place.
Seeking to reach their first finals tournament, Venezuela were the only team to win in the group this week as the other four matches ended in draws, three of them goalless.
The home side had put together an impressive run of three successive wins earlier in the group but their campaign shuddered to a halt when they failed to register a victory in their previous four matches.
Ecuador, who qualified for their first World Cup in 2002, have lost all five away games in the competition.
The teams traded first-half penalties -- Gabriel Urdaneta opening the scoring for Venezuela and Marlon Ayovi equalising for Ecuador -- before Moran struck twice in an eight-minute spell after the break.
"Now we're starting to win and achieve our objectives. Last week we were struggling (against Brazil) but this week we put in the effort and managed it," Moran told reporters after the game.
Ecuador striker Ivan Kaviedes, who was kicked out of a training camp for indiscipline before a match against Uruguay in September but scored on his return in the 2-0 win over Chile on Sunday, turned villain again as he missed a simple chance and gave away a penalty.
The Crystal Palace striker shot straight at goalkeeper Rafael Dudamel after being put clear in the 12th minute. Nine minutes later, he gave away a bizarre penalty as he lost possession to Moran and then tripped the striker.
Swiss-based striker Urdaneta fired into the middle of the goal as Edwin Villafuerte dived to his left.
Ecuador equalised with a farcical penalty awarded when Franklin Salas collapsed in a heap after the faintest of touches by Jose Manuel Rey as they two jumped for ball.
Marlon Ayovi took advantage as he fired home in the 42nd minute.
Venezuela went back in front in the 73rd minute with a simple goal, substitute Hector Gonzalez chipping the ball over the Ecuador defence and Moran, who plays for Colombian club Bucaramanga, scoring with a first-time shot.
Eight minutes later, Juan Arango sent Moran scuttling clear of the defence and he fired past Villafuerte for his second brace in consecutive matches.
"I think we played a great game and that we really should have been ahead after the first half," Arango said.