Brazil scraped a 1-0 World Cup qualifying
win over Peru with a performance which its own coach said lacked
inspiration while sharp-shooting Ecuador thumped Paraguay 5-2 Sunday.
Antonio Valencia, 19, playing his first competitive international, and
Edison Mendez scored twice apiece, all from long range, as Ecuador came
from two goals down in Quito.
Argentina (25 points from 12 games) and world champion Brazil (23)
pulled further away from the pack in the 10-nation South American
qualifying group this weekend.
Ecuador (19) also put daylight between itself and the other teams while
only three points separate fourth-place Paraguay (16) and ninth-place
Uruguay (15), Colombia, Chile and Venezuela (all 14) are squeezed in
between while last-place Bolivia (10) appears to be out of the running.
The top four nations qualify directly for next year's finals in Germany
and the fifth playoff against the Oceania winner for another place.
Brazil striker Ronaldo said before the match in Goiania that club and
country were separate matters and he would put his unhappy Real Madrid
form behind him against Peru.
The lethargic-looking number nine, jeered at one stage by the 50,000
crowd, squandered his side's two best first-half chances and blamed the
heat for his display.
Ronaldo missed his kick altogether when he only needed to flick Cafu's
cross into an empty net and shot weakly at Oscar Ibanez after being sent
clear by Roberto Carlos.
The Brazil striker atoned in the 74th minute when he slipped a pass
through for Kaka to score the winner with his fifth goal of the
Brazil had not scored in its two previous qualifiers against Colombia
and Ecuador. The goal was its first in four hours 29 minutes of
Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, in a rare criticism of his team, said it
should have been more creative against defensive opponents.
"The team lacked happiness and inspiration," said Parreira. "Given the
quality of Brazil's players, we should have created a lot more scoring
"The team was slow and heavy. We got it wrong by playing down the middle
and we made it easier for Peru to mark us."
Paraguay raced 2-0 up in 15 minutes in Quito with a Jose Cardozo penalty,
his sixth goal of the qualifiers, and a Salvador Cabanas goal on the
Ecuador recovered superbly, leveling by halftime after Valencia's low
33-yard shot was misjudged by the usually dependable goalkeeper Justo
Villar and Edison Mendez netted with a measured shot from a similar
The same two players scored again inside five minutes of the second
period, both efforts coming from outside the penalty area, while Marlon
Ayovi added a fifth with a controversial penalty.