Disappointing Brazil lose 2-0 to Paraguay in World Cup qualifiers


Asuncion : Paraguay beat Brazil 2-0 with a solid performance from the host that cast many shadows on Brazil’s path towards the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

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Roque Santa Cruz, in the 26th minute, and Salvador Cabanas, in the 49th minute, sealed the victory for the host before some 65,000 spectators here Sunday.

Beyond its two goals, Paraguay – the lone leader in the South American qualifiers – had other clear chances.

The host’s attacking pair deeply troubled the Brazilian defence, and Cabanas – who had heeled the ball to assist Santa Cruz in the first goal – hit the post in the first half and the crossbar in the second half.

Paraguay played with 10 men from the 47th minute, after defender Dario Veron was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Brazil’s overall performance was disappointing, and – without the creativity of injured Kaka or out-of-form Ronaldinho, and with a lacklustre Robinho, Diego and Luis Fabiano – the winner of five World Cups never appeared to threaten the rival goal.

Brazil – who recently lost 2-0 in a friendly against South American football weakling Venezuela – is set to find an adverse home crowd when it hosts Argentina Wednesday in Belo Horizonte, with some even calling for the exit of coach Carlos Dunga.

After Sunday’s loss, Brazil’s coach Dunga stood by his players.

“There is always pressure in the Brazilian national team with a negative result. We are going to talk to the players, but we have to give our work continuity. These same players have already obtained good results in other games,” he stressed.

Brazilian striker Adriano – who returned to the national team in an official match as a substitute Sunday, following a long stretch of poor form and personal problems – noted that the game against arch-rival Argentina can help the team overcome current troubles.

“Playing Argentina is not easy, but nothing better than to beat Argentina to overcome this unpleasant moment,” the veteran forward said.

However, Brazilian media were unforgiving.

“Brazil cannot afford to play like a small team,” said star TV commentator Galvao Bueno.

Five games into the qualifiers, Paraguay lead on 13 points, ahead of Argentina with 9 points and a game in hand and of Colombia with 9 points. Brazil stand fourth with 8 points, with Venezuela fifth on 7 points.

In the South American World Cup qualifiers, each of the 10 teams involved play all the others at home and away. The top four finishers win a place in the World Cup, with the fifth-place team facing a representative of the North, Central American and Caribbean region in a playoff.