Argentina defeats Venezuela 3-0 in qualifying
Argentina looks like the surest bet from South America to
qualify for the Brazil World Cup after Lionel Messi and Gonzalo
Higuain again led the way in a 3-0 victory Friday over Venezuela in
Higuain gave the Argentines a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute after
making the most of a pass from Messi, who then made it 2-0 with a
penalty in the 45th. Higuain picked up his second in the 59th,
putting the game out of reach – again off a Messi pass.
”It was a very important victory,” Higuain said. ”We won
playing well and put points on the board.”
Argentina solidified its lead atop the South America qualifying
group with 23 points in 10 matches, four clear of Colombia six
ahead of Ecuador. Venezuela has 12 from 10 matches.
Messi’s goal was his 32nd for Argentina, pulling him within two
of Diego Maradona for third place behind Gabriel Batistuta (56) and
Hernan Crespo (35).
Venezuela, the only country in the South American confederation
that has never qualified for the World Cup, was outmatched from the
start against the Argentines.
Messi was presented his fourth FIFA world player of the year
award before the match by Julio Grondona, president of the
Argentine Football Association and a FIFA vice president.
The Barcelona star was greeted by a thundering ovation at
Monumental stadium in the Argentine capital – the home of the River
Plate club – and also received kiss on the cheek from Grondona.
In other results in South America on Friday, Colombia defeated
Bolivia 5-0 and Uruguay and Paraguay drew 1-1. Peru and Chile
played later Saturday.
The top four clubs in South America qualify automatically for
the World Cup, and the fifth-place team faces a playoff for a spot.
Brazil as the host nation gets an automatic berth.