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More magic from Riquelme and Kaka
November 19th, 2007 7AM
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Thanks in large part to Juan Pablo Riquelme, Argentina remained perfect in World Cup qualifying. Riquelme and Brazil's Kaka made highlight reels around the world with exquisite strikes. Ecuador, a World Cup finalist in 2002 and 2006, is pointless at the bottom of South America's 10-team competition after a 5-1 loss to Paraguay that cost Coach Luis Suarez his job.

JUAN ROMAN RIQUELME. All national team players should follow Riquelme's example and spend time on the bench. Riquelme, who again languishes on the bench at Spanish club Villarreal, scored two goals for the second time in three World Cup qualifiers, leading Argentina to a 3-0 win over Bolivia. His first goal on a free kick placed just inside the post was his third goal on a free kick since the start of qualifying (video). Teammate Lionel Messi served the second goal on a platter, making a long run to the top of the penalty area, where he laid the ball off to Riquelme, who sidefooted a swerving ball around Bolivian keeper Carlos Arias to the far post (video).

LUIS SUAREZ.The Colombian is the first coaching victim of the South American qualifiers, quitting after Saturday's 5-1 loss to Paraguay, the second game in a row in which Ecuador conceded five goals. He was the last of the coaches of the four South American teams that played at the 2006 World Cup still with the same national team. "My decision has been taken exclusively for the good of the Ecuador team, which will surely have a better campaign without me," said Suarez, who took over from countryman Hernan Dario Gomez in August 2004 following the Copa America and led his team to the 2006 World Cup finals.

KAKA. Kaka, the favorite to win the year-end international player of the year awards, scored a stunning goal, Brazil's only goal in its 1-1 tie at Peru on Sunday. Kaka collected the ball 30 yards from the Peruvian goal, let it bounce once and then lifted a volley with the outside of his right foot that curved away from the Peruvian goalie Diego Penny and went into the goal high off the far post (video).

MARCELO SALAS.The Chile striker, who was once rumored to be headed to MLS and almost gave up the game six months ago, continued his international comeback with two goals 11 minutes apart in Chile's 2-2 tie with Uruguay.



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