Venezuela beats Argentina for 1st time in history

Even a draw would have been momentous, but Venezuela went a step

further by beating Argentina 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier for its

first ever win over the South American heavyweights.

Venezuela had lost all 18 of its previous matches against

Argentina, but Fernando Amorebieta’s 61st-minute header turned the

tables Tuesday night against a star-studded team captained by

Lionel Messi and also including Real Madrid stars Angel Di Maria

and Gonzalo Higuain.

”This was not a lucky game, not a fortunate game, this was a

deserved victory,” Venezuela coach Cesar Farias said.

Venezuela’s players greeted the final whistle by hugging each

other as fireworks were set off above the stadium in Puerto La

Cruz.

”We made history,” midfielder Cesar Gonzalez said. ”We

brought our soul on the field. We are family. We back the coach and

each other. The goal is the World Cup. We defeated a big team, but

there is a long, long way to go.”

Argentina, under new coach Alejandro Sabella, had comfortably

won its first game in qualifying 4-1 against Chile on Friday, while

Venezuela lost 2-0 in Ecuador.

That left Argentina as overwhelming favorites to win against a

team that has never played at a World Cup.

However, Venezuela’s stout defense restricted Argentina to

mainly long-range shots, while Argentina goalkeeper Mariano Andujar

had to make several sharp saves in the first half.

The hosts took the lead in the 61st minute when Juan Arango

delivered a corner from the right and Athletic Bilbao striker

Amorebieta managed to get ahead of his marker and head in at the

far post.

Jose Rondon almost added a second after a slaloming run through

the Argentina defense but just lost control of the ball as he

closed in on goal.

Sabella conceded that on the balance of play, Venezuela had

deserved the win.

”In the first half hour Argentina was better,” he said. ”We

had chances in the first 20 minutes. After that, Venezuela began to

get better, particularly in the last 10 minutes of the first half.

In the second half they were better than we were.”

Argentina and Venezuela have three points from two games in the

nine-team South American qualifying group, which is led by

Uruguay.

The top four teams will qualify, with the fifth-place team going

through to a playoff.

Venezuela next travels to Colombia on Nov. 11 when Argentina

hosts Bolivia.

”We have to analyse what we should improve,” Sabella said.

”The qualifiers are a long tournament and we must improve some

aspects.”

Lineups:

Venezuela: Renny Vega, Roberto Rosales, Oswaldo Vizcarrondo,

Fernando Amorebieta, Gabriel Cichero, Franklin Lucena, Tomas

Rincon, Cesar Gonzalez (Julio Alvarez, 83), Juan Arango, Nicolas

Fedor (Alejandro Moreno, 89) Jose Salomon Rondon (Frank Feltscher,

77).

Argentina: Mariano Andujar, Pablo Zabaleta (Ever Banega, 65),

Nicolas Burdisso, Martin Demichelis, Marcos Rojo, Javier

Mascherano, Nicolas Otamendi, Jose Sosa (Rodrigo Palacio, 75),

Angel Di Maria (Javier Pastore, 83), Lionel Messi, Gonzalo

Higuain.