Tuesday, October 14, 2008

South American qualifiers marred by more trouble

BUENOS AIRES: Brazil complained of hostile treatment in Venezuela and three players were sent off in Ecuador's win over Chile on Sunday to complete a stormy weekend in South American World Cup qualifying.

The incidents followed Saturday's vicious River Plate derby in which Argentina coach Alfio Basile said his team had been given a kicking by opponents Uruguay in their 2-1 win.

Kaka, playing his first international for 11 months, scored after only six minutes to set Brazil on the way to a 4-0 win in San Cristobal, restoring normal service after their shock 2-0 friendly defeat by Venezuela in June.

Robinho added two more and Adriano completed the scoring with his first international goal since the 2006 World Cup as Brazil overcame what coach Dunga said was a hostile reception.

"When we play away from home in the World Cup qualifiers, the whole country unites to try and make things as difficult as possible for Brazil," Dunga told reporters after their 18th win in 19 matches against Venezuela.

"They left us stuck in the plane for an hour and a half. Inside the hotel, we also had numerous difficulties during the night."

Ecuador striker Christian Benitez scored the only goal in Quito as his team beat nine-man Chile 1-0 to revive their hopes of qualifying for the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

Benitez had stirred up the rivalry before the game by describing Chile's attack as weak.

The visitors, who made their last finals appearance in 1998, were in trouble from the 20th minute when defender Ismael Fuentes was sent off for a late tackle on Joffre Guerron.

Ecuador had Luis Antonio Valencia dismissed in the 76th minute for a studs-up challenge and he was followed by Chile defender Gonzalo Jara in the 83rd minute for a second bookable offence.

The weekend's games completed the first half of the marathon 18-match South American campaign. The top four teams qualify directly for South Africa and the fifth plays off against the fourth side from the CONCACAF region.

Paraguay lead with 20 points, followed by Brazil and Argentina on 16. The trio already look as if they will comfortably fill three of the direct places.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

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