Brazil and Argentina return to winning ways

[WORLD CUP 2010 QUALIFYING] Wins for the top three teams -- Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina -- meant there was little change in the South American qualifying group. Both Ecuador and Bolivia moved up thanks to home victories.

Salvador Cabanas' early strike from 30 yards out was enough to give Paraguay victory in Colombia and keep it well ahead of the chasing pack. If it takes another three points from its home game against bottom-placed Peru coming up on Wednesday, the Paraguayan FA should begin to make hotel reservations for South Africa 2010.

New Colombia coach Eduardo Lara made a lot of changes to the side of his predecessor, but despite plenty of possession it still could not improve on its abysmal goal scoring record, which now stands at just four goals in nine games. The short-term prospects are not good for Colombia -- on Wednesday it travels to Brazil.

Argentina ended its frustrating run of four successive draws in qualifying play by edging Uruguay 2-1 in Buenos Aires on goals from Leo Messi and Sergio Aguero. But the team will be without Juan Roman Riquelme and Carlos Tevez against Chile on Wednesday when they serve yellow-card suspensions. Coach Alfio Basile also claimed that Aguero, midfielder Javier Mascherano and defender Martin Demichelis were all injury doubts for the game as well. "We're expecting a very tough match against Chile," warned Basile.

Brazil made short work of Venezuela by going 3-0 up in the first 20 minutes. Kaka, who'd been told by his coach Dunga to "be yourself," scored just six minutes into his first international game for almost a year. A brace from Robinho, including a 30-yard shot, and Adriano's first international goal since the last World Cup rounded off the 4-0 rout, which leaves Venezuela equal on points with last-place Peru. The home team did have its chances, but Brazilian keeper Julio Cesar was in superb form when called to action.

Bolivia moved off the group's bottom spot and up two places to give itself a glimmer of hope with a 3-0 home win over Peru on two headers from Joaquin Botero and a fine long distance shot in the second half from Ronald Garcia. Former MLS midfielder Joselito Vaca created two goals for Bolivia, which hosts Uruguay Tuesday, when it needs another win to haul itself within distance of a qualifying spot.

There was an ugly game in the rain in Quito, where Ecuador topped Chile on a sole second-half goal from Santos Laguna striker Christian Benitez. Chile had Ismail Fuentes sent off after just 19 minutes, and lost Gonzalo Jara to his second yellow card of the game seven minutes from time. Ecuador, meanwhile, had Luis Valencia ordered off in the second half for a studs-up tackle. The win moved Ecuador up to sixth place, level on points with Uruguay and just one point behind Chile.

Saturday October 11
Bolivia 3 (Botero 2, Garcia) Peru 0
Argentina 2 (Messi, Aguero) Uruguay 1 (Lugano)
Colombia 0 Paraguay 1 (Cabanas)
Sunday October 12
Venezuela 0 Brazil 4 (Adriano, Kaka, Robinho 2)
Ecuador 1 (Benitez) Chile 0

Tuesday October 14
Bolivia vs Uruguay (4 pm)
Wednesday October 15
Paraguay vs Peru (5:10 pm)
Chile vs Argentina (8:15 pm)
Venezuela vs Ecuador (9 pm)
Brazil vs Colombia (9 pm)

STANDINGS (after 10 of 18 games): 1. Paraguay (20 points) 2. Brazil (16) 3. Argentina (16) 4. Chile (13) 5. Uruguay (12) 6. Ecuador (12) 7. Colombia (10) 8. Bolivia (8) 9.Venezuela (7) 10. Peru (7)

Format: Top four teams qualify automatically for South Africa 2010. Fifth-placed team plays off in a home-and-away series with the fourth-placed team in the Concacaf final round qualifying group.
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