Chile downs Argentina, Brazil held at home

[WORLD CUP 2010 QUALIFYING] Paraguay went six points clear at the top of the South American qualifying group Wednesday after beating Peru, 1-0, while Argentina lost to Chile, 1-0, and Brazil could only tie, 0-0, at home to Colombia.

Chile gave its qualification campaign a major boost with the home victory over Argentina. The game's only goal came from forward Fabian Orellano after 35 minutes, his first for his country. Argentina was without Juan Roman Riquelme and Carlos Tevez, both suspended, but its lineup was hardly a second string. The victory puts Chile level on points with the third-placed Argentines, though trailing them on goal difference.

Brazil, meanwhile, was held to a 0-0 tie by Colombia in the Maracana. It started the game with three Manchester City players in its lineup -- Robinho, Elano and Jo -- but the first two had been substituted out of the game by the time it was 63 minutes old. Their replacements, however, including Alexandre Pato, made no difference and Colombia held on for an invaluable point.

Paraguay continued to win, albeit by a less than impressive 1-0 margin at home to last-placed Peru. The visiting side held out almost until the end thanks to a heroic performance from goalkeeper Leao Butron, but Paraguayan substitute Edgar Benitez finally breached Butron's defenses eight minutes from time.

Venezuela defeated Ecuador 3-1 in Puerto la Cruz, storming back in the second half after falling behind in the first to a strike from Ecuador's Isaac Mina. Goals from Giancarlo Maldonado, Columbus Crew striker Alejandro Moreno, and Juan Arango secured the points that moved Venezuela up to eighth, and a potential victory away from fifth place.

On Tuesday, Bolivia dropped two vital points when it ceded an equalizer from Uruguayan striker Sebastien Abreu two minutes before the game's end in La Paz. The home team, which hasn't beaten Uruguay for 11 years, were 2-0 up by half-time on a brace from Marcelo Martins. Uruguay pulled a goal back just after the hour mark through Carlos Bueno before Abreu's bullet header took Uruguay to 13 points on the edge of the direct qualifying zone. "In soccer," mused Bolivian coach Erwin Sanchez, "if you don't kill, you're killed."

RESULTS
Bolivia 2 (Martins 2) Uruguay 2 (Bueno, Abreu)
Paraguay 1 (Benitez) Peru 0
Chile 1 (Orellano) Argentina 0
Venezuela 3 (Maldonado, Moreno, Arango) Ecuador 1 (Mina)
Brazil 0 Colombia 0

STANDINGS (after 10 of 18 games): 1. Paraguay (23 points) 2. Brazil (17) 3. Argentina (16) 4. Chile (16) 5. Uruguay (13) 6. Ecuador (12) 7. Colombia (11) 8. Venezuela (10) 9. Bolivia (9) 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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