SOUTH AMERICA – Bolivia chalked up a historic 6-1 win over Argentina in the big surprise of the 12th round of the South American qualifying games for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The match was played 3,600 metres above sea level at the Hernando Siles ground in Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, on 1 April.
Marcelo Martins, Alex da Rosa, and Didi Torrico scored one goal each for Bolivia, and Joaquin Botero netted three for the home team. Argentina’s only goal was scored by Luis Gonzalez. AP reported on the headlines in the Bolivian press celebrating the win, “We hammered God”, boasted La Prensa; while La Razón settled for, “The Greens blow out the stars” and “Historic drubbing” to describe Bolivia’s most “glorious” football moment since 1994, the one time the country qualified for the World Cup.
“I suffered with them,” said Argentina manager Diego Maradona at the post-match press conference, “every time Bolivia scored was a stab to my heart. What do you want me to say? It was a stab, just that”. Bolivia’s manager, Erwin “Platini” Sanchez, on the other hand, said that his team had achieved its crushing victory by the “grace of God”. “Football’s like that. Some you win, some you lose,” he said.
In another high-altitude match, group leaders Paraguay, playing 2,850 metres above sea level at the Atahualpa ground in Quito, scraped a 1-1 draw against Ecuador with a goal in injury time. Ecuador’s goal came from Christian Novoa after 63 minutes. Paraguay’s equalizer was scored by Edgar Benitez in the 92nd minute.
Although Uruguay dominated their match against Chile in Santiago, they were unable to convert their superiority on the pitch into goals and in the end had to be satisfied with a single point from a goalless draw.
Brazil regained the confidence of their supporters as they strolled to a 3-0 win over Peru at the Beira Rio ground in Porto Alegre. Brazil’s goals came from Luis Fabiano (2) and Felipe Melo.
On 31 March, Venezuela kept their faint hopes of qualifying alive after goals from Nicolas Fedor and Juan Arango gave them a 2-0 win over Colombia at the Cachamay ground in Puerto Ordaz.
The teams’ positions after the twelfth round games are as follows: Paraguay leads with 24 points, followed by Brazil with 21 points, Chile with 20, Argentina with 19, Uruguay with 17, Colombia and Ecuador with 14, Venezuela with 13, Bolivia with 12, and Peru with 7.