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Portugal brace sinks South Africa, easy for Venezuela

PORTUGAL beat South Africa 2-0 in a friendly and achieved its objective of gaining goals and confidence in the middle of a disappointing World Cup campaign on Tuesday.

Unable to score in its past three qualifying matches, Portugal took the lead after just seven minutes through defender Bruno Alves, and striker Edinho added a second after 56 minutes.

Portugal coach Carlos Quieroz said he was pleased with his team's reaction to its goalless World Cup match at home against Sweden last Saturday.

"The players were fantastic. They committed themselves to the goals of the team," Quieroz said. "When you score early that gives more confidence. It forces the other team to take risks and it's more easy to play."

The 2006 World Cup semifinalist had the luxury of leaving world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench until it was 2-0. Portugal was rarely troubled by the overmatched South Africans, who will host the 2010 World Cup.

Quieroz sent out his side to attack early and often with Nani prominent on the right wing.

From a second corner on the left, Deco delivered a deep cross to unmarked defender Alves, whose strong header downwards bounced up into the roof of the net.

Midway through the half, Deco's free-kick found the head of Edinho and the big striker's effort flew just over the goal.

Midfielder Maniche then struck a volley just wide from 20 meters.

South Africa's best chance arrived on a counterattack just before the break but Bernard Parker hesitated from 15 meters and shot weakly wide.

After 56 minutes, Edinho was foiled with a close-range header by goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune. Deco's resulting corner evaded a clutch of defenders and Edinho scored with a half-volley at the far post.

South Africa coach Joel Santana said his players needed to concentrate at corners and develop its physical game.

"The team will improve with a lot of hard work," Santana said. "The objective was the experience."

Elsewhere, host Venezuela scored twice in the last 15 minutes, including a stunning Juan Arango free-kick, to beat 10-man Colombia 2-0 on Tuesday and keep alive its chances of qualifying for its first World Cup.

Nicolas Fedor broke the deadlock when he turned in a low cross from Anyelo Pena in the 77th minute, only two minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Four minutes later Arango curled a free-kick in off the underside of the crossbar as the hosts made Colombia pay for its ultra-defensive tactics.

Colombia, which has scored only six goals in its 12 World Cup qualifiers, had midfielder Abel Aguilar sent off in the 27th minute for a violent lunge at Alejandro Moreno.


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