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Rediff.com  » Sports » Brazil beat Argentina, qualify for World Cup finals

Brazil beat Argentina, qualify for World Cup finals

Last updated on: September 06, 2009 12:56 IST

Five-time champions Brazil qualified for the World Cup finals on Saturday after beating arch-rivals Argentina 3-1.

Sevilla striker Luis Fabiano scored twice after Benfica skipper Luisao opened the scoring for the Brazilians in a fast, hard-tackling match.

Argentina pulled a goal back in the 65th minute through Jesus Datolo.

Luis FabianoThe result maintained Brazil's record of never missing a World Cup. It also put pressure on Argentina coach Diego Maradona, whose team's chances of reaching the finals in South Africa hang by a thread.

Brazil lead the South American group with 30 points. They are more than nine points ahead of fifth and sixth-placed Colombia and Ecuador with three games remaining.

The top four qualify automatically while the team finishing fifth goes into a play-off against the fourth-placed team in the CONCACAF region.

Argentina are in fourth place, eight points behind Brazil, and also behind Chile and Paraguay.

It was 16 years to the day that a 5-0 drubbing by Colombia had twice World champions Argentina needing to win a play-off to reach the 1994 finals in the US

Brazil's opening goals were the result of set pieces. Benfica skipper Luisao put them ahead from an Elano free-kick in the 24th minute, heading past Argentina keeper Mariano Andujar into the far corner.

Fabiano made it 2-0 six minutes later following a free-kick after Kaka was brought down just outside the box.

Elano's free-kick was blocked by a defender but Kaka did well to lay the ball for Gilberto Silva, whose shot was parried by Andujar. Fabiano pounced on the loose ball and slotted home.

Argentina, who always threatened with Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez looking dangerous, pulled a goal back in the 65th minute when a 30-yard left foot drive from Datolo soared past Brazil keeper Julio Cesar.

But Brazil continued to press and were 3-1 ahead within two minutes when Kaka put Fabiano in possession. The striker beat Nicolas Otamendi before chipping the ball over Andujar.