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Maradona enjoys perfect homecoming
by Paul Kennedy, March 30th, 2009 7AM



[WORLD CUP 2010 QUALIFYING-SOUTH AMERICA] Argentina was outstanding in Diego Maradona's home debut as national team coach. He said the welcome he received from fans at the Monumental Stadium was better than he expected, and he watched Argentines go out and crush Venezuela, 4-0, to move into a tie for second place with Chile in the South American qualifying group ahead of Brazil, which was lucky to tie Ecuador, 1-1.

Lionel Messi was the star in Buenos Aires, scoring the first goal and setting up Carlos Tevez for the second. Maximiliano Rodriguez and Sergio Aguero later added goals for the Argentines.

"I couldn't have imagined what happened today," said Maradona. "It was perfect. It's not easy to score four goals against Venezuela, we had to work hard for it."

Venezuela started Red Bulls midfielder Jorge Rojas.

Brazil struggled in the altitude of Quito but almost came away with a win against Ecuador, which needed a goal from Cristian Noboa in the 89th minute to earn a 1-1 draw.

Julio Baptista had given Brazil the lead in the 72nd minute with a goal on its only good chance of the second half.

Leader Paraguay lost for only the second time when it dropped a 2-0 decision at fifth-place Uruguay.

Uruguay 2 (Forlan 28, Lugano 57) Paraguay 0
Argentina 4 (Messi 26, Tevez 47, Rodriguez 52, Aguero 73) Venezuela 0.
Colombia 2 (Torres 26, Renteria 88) Bolivia 0.
Ecuador 1 (Noboa 89) Brazil 1 (Julio Baptista 72).
Peru 1 (Fano 34) Chile 3 (Sanchez 2, Suazo pen. 32, Fernandez 72).

Paraguay 7 2 2 18 8 23
Argentina 5 4 2 17 7 19
Chile 6 1 4 17 14 19
Brazil 4 6 1 16 5 18
Uruguay 4 4 3 21 10 16
Ecuador 3 4 4 13 18 13
Colombia 2 5 3 4 8 11
Venezuela 3 1 7 12 22 10
Bolivia 2 3 5 13 22 9
Peru 1 4 6 6 23 7


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