SOUTH AMERICAN ROUNDUP
Brazil had an easy time while Argentina were forced to toil.
But both of South America's premier teams picked up crucial victories on Saturday to advance closer to nailing down spots in next year's World Cup Finals in South Africa.
Five-time World Cup champions Brazil brushed aside Uruguay 4-0 with goals by Daniel Alves, Juan, Luis Fabiano and Kaka, the first win for Brazil in 33 years in a qualifying game in Uruguay's capital Montevideo.
Argentina eked out a 1-0 victory in Buenos Aires against Colombia, Daniel Diaz scoring the winner in the 56th minute.
It wasn't great, but it was an improvement over the humiliating 6-1 loss in April at Bolivia, the first major setback since Diego Maradona was named in November to coach the two-time World Cup winners.
In other qualifiers in South America's 10-team group, Chile won at Paraguay 2-0 and Venezuela - the only one of South America's 10 teams that has never reached the World Cup Finals - won 1-0 at Bolivia.
With most teams having played 13 games in the marathon 18-game qualifying group and the top four to qualify directly for the World Cup, Brazil and Paraguay, who each have 24 points followed by Chile (23) and Argentina (22), are in the drivers' seat.
The fifth-placed team faces a further play-off with the fourth-placed team from the North and Central America and Caribbean region (Concacaf).
"When you play football, you always win," said Brazil coach Dunga, implying that Uruguay had tried to intimidate his team with rough-arm tactics.
"It was a great victory. We not only defended very well, we also scored four goals."
Uruguay, the highest scoring team in South American qualifying before the weekend's games, produced almost nothing in attack. "Brazil took advantage of their opportunities," Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said.
"On top of that, they defended very well."
Brazil's win and Paraguay's loss set the stage for Wednesday's Qualifier between the two in Brazil.
After a goalless first half in which Colombia had most of the play, Maradona changed Argentina from a three-man to four-man defence, bringing on Javier Zanetti.
"I was furious at half-time. In the first half, we made a mistake in the way we played and Colombia walked all over us," Maradona said.
"That can't happen in our own stadium. But afterwards, everything changed."
A free-kick from Barcelona star Lionel Messi seven minutes after half-time hit the crossbar, but Getafe defender Diaz scored minutes later with a right-foot shot after Martin Demichelis flicked on Juan Sebastian Veron's corner.
Chile's 2-0 victory over Paraguay, with goals by Matias Fernandez and Huberto Suazo, already has Chileans booking tickets for South Africa. Not so fast, warned Chile's Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa, whose team faces Bolivia on Wednesday.
"The qualifying is a long process and teams go on streaks," he said.
"I don't want to talk about qualifying - or not qualifying - because tough games remain and we have to play against Bolivia on Wednesday."
Paraguay also has an Argentine coach - Gerardo Martino - who watched the game from the stands after being suspended for the match by Fifa, the governing body of world football.
"This sure makes the qualifying more difficult," Martino said.
"We didn't keep possession, and that left us without any form of offence. And now comes Brazil." - Wire Services.
This article was first published on July 6, 2014.
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