Sun, Oct 09, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Argentina bounce back from gloom

Reuters, BUENOS AIRES

Argentina lifted the gloom from a poor Copa America by routing Chile 4-1 in their opening 2014 soccer World Cup qualifier on Friday, while Uruguay also scored four to get their campaign off to a good start.

Gonzalo Higuain scored a hat-trick and Lionel Messi ended a 30-month goal drought for his country in competitive internationals, while Uruguay captain Diego Lugano scored twice in a 4-2 home victory over Bolivia.

Striker Paolo Guerrero got a double as Peru beat Paraguay 2-0 in Lima, while Ecuador beat Venezuela by the same score in Quito and Colombia had a bye.

Argentina got off to a fast start when the defense cleared a poor free-kick by Waldo Ponce and Angel Di Maria raced down to the other end where he passed to Higuain to open the scoring.

Higuain laid on the 25th-minute second goal for Messi, who had last scored for Argentina in a competitive match against Venezuela in Buenos Aires in March 2009.

Higuain added two more in the second half for his hat-trick and midfielder Matias Fernandez pulled one back on the hour for Chile, who had beaten Argentina for the first time in their previous meeting in Santiago in October 2008.

South American champions Uruguay, playing in a half-empty Centenario on a cold and rainy evening, ran up a 3-1 halftime lead after a third-minute opener from striker Luis Suarez.

Rudy Cardozo stunned Uruguay with a 17th minute equalizer before Lugano headed the home side back in front from Diego Forlan’s 25th-minute free-kick.

Edinson Cavani headed Uruguay’s third from Maxi Pereira’s cross and Lugano tapped in the fourth in the 71st when goalkeeper Carlos Arias could not hold Forlan’s shot.

Bolivia striker Marcelo Martins pulled another goal back with a late penalty.

Peru’s Guerrero scored in the 47th and 73rd minutes as he combined with fellow striker Claudio Pizarro.

With Ecuador winger Antonio Valencia inspirational, strikers Jaime Ayovi and Cristian Benitez scored in the opening half-hour at the Atahualpa, about 3,000m above sea level, against a Venezuela side lacking several first-choice players kept fresh for the home clash with Argentina on Tuesday.

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