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Brazil strolls, Argentina made to toil

BRAZIL had an easy time while Argentina was forced to toil, but both of Latin America's premier teams picked up crucial victories on Saturday to advance closer to nailing down spots in next year's World Cup in South Africa.

Five-time World Cup champion Brazil rolled over Uruguay 4-0 on 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 Aries against Colombia, winning on Daniel Diaz's goal in the 56th. It wasn't great, but it was an improvement over a humiliating 1-6 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's never reached the World Cup final - won 1-0 at Bolivia. Last-place Peru plays at home Sunday against Ecuador.

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 each have 24 points followed by Chile (23), Argentina (22) and Uruguay (17). Next come Venezuela (16), Colombia (14), Ecuador (14 with a game in hand), Bolivia (12) and Peru (7 with a game in hand).

The fifth-placed team faces a further playoff with the fourth-placed team from the North and Central America and Caribbean region.

Brazil's win and Paraguay's loss set the stage for Wednesday's qualifier between the two in Brazil.

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 Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa, whose team faces Bolivia on Wednesday.


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