Fri, Jun 10, 2005 - Page 24 News List

Argentina defeats nemesis Brazil 3-1

SHOWDOWN Argentina joined Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea as the first nations to qualify for next year's FIFA World Cup finals in Germany

AP , BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Brazil's Renato, right, comforts teammate Adriano on Wednesday at the end of their FIFA World Cup qualifying-round match against Argentina in Monumental stadium, Buenos Aires.

PHOTO: AFP

Argentina clinched a berth in next year's World Cup beating archrival Brazil 3-1 behind two goals from striker Hernan Crespo on Wednesday.

Crespo scored in the third and 39th minutes, and Juan Roman Riquelme added another in the 18th in a showdown between the two powerhouses, winners of seven World Cups.

Roberto Carlos scored Brazil's goal in the 71st.

Argentina, World Cup winners in 1978 and 1986, qualified for its ninth straight Cup.

It stretched its lead of the 10-team South American qualifying group to 31 points after 15 rounds, with defending champion Brazil second on 27. Ecuador third with 23, followed by Paraguay at 22. Three rounds remain.

Argentina dominated this latest chapter in the storied rivalry, as Brazil played without star striker Ronaldo, who scored three goals against Argentina in their previous qualifier, but was released from the team at his request for personal reasons.

Crespo opened the scoring three minutes after the opening whistle, collecting a pass from Luis Gonzalez to beat goalkeeper Dida with a low shot.

Argentine playmaker Riquelme made it 2-0 in the 17th, receiving the ball with his back to goal before turning to beat his defender and launch a left-footed blast from outside the area. The midfielder at Spain's Villarreal celebrated by running over to Argentina's bench and hugging teammate Pablo Aimar and kissing his own jersey.

Argentina kept up the pressure through the first half, controlling most of the possession with nifty passing and movement, eliciting chants of "Ole! Ole!" from happy fans at Monumental stadium in downtown Buenos Aires.

In the 39th, with Brazil slow to react defensively, Riquelme played a short pass off a corner kick to Javier Saviola, who sent a lofting chip pass that Crespo headed in -- his seventh goal in qualifying for next year's tournament.

But the five-time champions came out in the second half looking to make amends.

Roberto Carlos sent a bending free kick into the upper corner of the goal in the 71st, foreshadowing a flurry of Brazilian attacks.

Adriano had two goal scoring opportunities in the final 15 minutes, putting a header just over the crossbar and hitting the post with a low driving shot.

After the final whistle, Argentina's players gathered in a circle at midfield, hugging each other and jumping in place to celebrate.

Argentina's victory evened the series between the two teams, now at 33-33-24.

In 2002, Argentina was eliminated in the first round of the World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

Also on Wednesday, Colombia rolled over visiting Ecuador 3-0, Paraguay bounced back at home from a heavy defeat to Brazil by pounding Bolivia 4-1, and host Chile held off Venezuela 2-1.

After crunching Peru 5-0 on Saturday, Colombia has scored eight goals without conceding any in four days, indicating the rapid turnaround in fortune under former under-20 coach Reinaldo Rueda, who was appointed in January. Since then, the team has won twice, drawn once, and lost to Argentina 1-0, but more importantly returned to qualifying contention.

Paraguay returned home to Asuncion from a 4-1 spanking to Brazil to hand out the same punishment to Bolivia.

Carlos Gamarra's early header was quickly tied by Gonzalo Galindo's 25m blast for Bolivia, but Roque Santa Cruz broke the deadlock, and Julio Cesar and Jorge Nunez completed the rout before 17,000 happy fans at Defensores del Chaco stadium.

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