Brazil, Paraguay on road to 2010 World Cup


Rio de Janeiro/Santiago : Five-time world champion Brazil thrashed Ecuador 5-0 and Chile beat Peru 2-0 as both winners built momentum in the South American qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

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At Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Maracana stadium, where the national team was playing for the first time in seven years, Vagner Love put Brazil ahead in the 19th minute before some 80,000 spectators Wednesday.

Ronaldinho made it 2-0 as he cleverly deflected a long-distance effort by Kaka in the 72nd minute. Kaka himself scored a great goal five minutes later with another long shot that slipped just under the crossbar.

In the 82nd minute, Elano put the ball away efficiently after a beautiful dribbling effort by Robinho on the left, and one minute later Kaka again scored from a distance, though this time with a poor shot that Ecuadorian goalie Daniel Viteri shockingly failed to contain.

Before their 20-minute scoring barrage in the second half, Brazilian coach Carlos Dunga and his players were even booed by the fans. However, with the resounding triumph, Kaka, Ronaldinho and company made amends for a lacklustre, goalless draw Sunday in Colombia. Ecuador, which qualified for the last two World Cups, had already lost 1-0 to Venezuela in Quito in a first-round upset.

At the renovated Maracana, the so-called temple of football and one of the world’s largest stadiums, Ecuador could have been luckier with the score had the referee seen a clear penalty in the Brazilian box in the 41st minute, when Gilberto handled the ball.

Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar got to show off his skills to deflect a free kick from Segundo Castillo in the 57th minute, and two minutes later to prevent Cristian Benitez from scoring. From then on the game was all Brazil’s.

Earlier Wednesday, Chile beat Peru 2-0 before 60,000 fans at Santiago’s National Stadium. Humberto Suazo struck a header in the 11th minute, and the talented Matias Fernandez – who controlled the Chilean attack and the pace of the game – made it 2-0 in the 51st minute.

The victory puts the Chilean side coached by Marcelo Bielsa back in the race, after a 2-0 weekend loss to Argentina in Buenos Aires, while Peru remains unable to win and added Wednesday’s defeat to a goalless home draw against Paraguay.

Paraguay defeated Uruguay 1-0 in Asuncion with a 14th-minute goal by Nelson Haedo Valdez. Uruguay had notched the widest margin of victory in the first round, 5-0 at home against lowly Bolivia.

“Paraguay played a lot better than Uruguay and, as against Peru, deserved to win by a wider margin,” Haedo Valdez noted.

Earlier Wednesday, Colombia obtained a valuable point from a goalless draw against Bolivia in the high altitude of La Paz.

The Colombian side could have won the game had its forwards been more precise, but Bolivia also had several chances and allowed the rival goalkeeper to shine, particularly in the first half.

With Bolivian President Evo Morales – an avid football fan – watching from the stands, Bolivian midfielder Leonel Reyes was sent off in the 67th minute for a second bookable offence.