By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Three rounds before the end of the World Cup 2010 qualifiers, Brazil defeated arch-rivals Argentina by three goals to one and guaranteed the first of four South American berths in South Africa next year.
The match took place last Saturday, September 5, at the Gigante de Arroyito Stadium, in Rosário, hometown of Argentina’s current golden boy, Lionel Messi, and also of revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.
A hostile mood preceded this match of two historical rivals, with several polemic declarations from Maradona, who provoked and teased the Brazilian team. This was reflected in the audience of the Gigante de Arroyito Stadium, who threw bombs and bottles at the Brazilian players as they arrived on the pitch.
Perhaps due to the tension, Argentina started the match on the offensive. Messi started well, creating a lot of chances in the midfield. The Argentinian attackers, however, failed to find a rhythm, and the Brazilian defense held strong. Some of these efforts resulted in fouls, and were punished with yellow cards.
Defender Lúcio, midfielder Kaká and striker Luís Fabiano added to their tally of yellow cards in the World Cup qualifiers, each receiving one more in the match. The three will not be eligible to play in Brazil’s next qualifying match, against Chile on Wednesday September 9.
In the 24th minute, Luís Fabiano suffered a foul near the Argentina goal. Midfielder Elano took the resulting free kick, crossing the ball near the goal. Defender Luisão jumped higher than the Argentinian defense and scored with a header. Five minutes later, Brazil scored again. Maicon received a great pass from Kaká, and shot. Goalkeeper Mariano Andujar defended well, but the rebound came to striker Luís Fabiano, who had plenty of room to score. Brazil were up two goals to zero with only thirty minutes on the clock.
Despite the negative score, Argentina kept pressing Brazil. In the 37th minute, Maxi Rodriguez received a cross from Tevez, and shot on target at the Brazilian goal, but goalkeeper Julio César did an amazing job to keep the ball out.
In the second half, Argentina stayed on the attack, but failed to find the net until the nineteenth minute, when Dátolo tried a long shot from outside the goalbox, and provided the breakthrough. The audience went wild, expecting an Argentinian comeback.
Their hopes were dashed, however, three minutes later, when Luís Fabiano scored once again, completing a hat-trick. He received a perfect pass from Kaká and shot the ball above the Argentinian goalkeeper. During the Brazilian squad’s celebrations, a rock was thrown at defender Juan’s head.
After the Brazilian goal the home team was demoralized, and were quiet for the rest of the night. The match ended three to one, and Brazil secured a spot in the South Africa World Cup next year. With the result, Argentina lies in fourth place and at risk of not qualifying for the tournament.
Brazil’s next match will be against second-placed Chile, who has 27 points. The match will take place next Wednesday, September 9, at the Pituaçu Stadium, in Salvador, Bahía.
Also on Wednesday, Argentina will face third-placed Paraguay in Assunción, Paraguay. If Argentina loses, its situation in the qualifiers will be delicate at best.