Chile qualify, Argentina win

BUENOS AIRES: Diego Maradona’s Argentina side struggled past Peru 2-1 to set up a Wednesday showdown at Uruguay for a World Cup 2010 berth while Chile booked a place in South Africa by beating Colombia 4-2.

The penultimate night of South American qualifying matches for next year’s global football showdown saw Argentina avoid a shocking upset in stoppage time while Chile made an impressive qualifying run pay off on two second-half goals. Martin Palmero, recalled to the side by Maradona after a decade’s absence and inserted at the start of the second half, tapped in a goal in the second minute of stoppage time after Peru had equalised in the 90th.

Argentina have a one-point edge over Uruguay heading into their showdown for the last automatic World Cup spot from South America. Gonzalo Higuain scored in the 48th minute to give Argentina a 1-0 lead. But Peru stunned the hosts in the 90th minute when Hernan Rengifo headed home an equaliser.

Argentina improved to 7-6 with four drawn in qualifying for 25 points entering a showdown match next Wednesday at Uruguay, who won 2-1 at Ecuador to remain on Argentina’s heels at 6-5 with six drawn and 24 points. Whichever side wins will book the last automatic spot in the World Cup finals, joining Brazil, Paraguay and Chile.

The loser would need help to hold off Ecuador for fifth place, who would book a berth against North America’s fourth-place finisher to decide a berth in South Africa. Should Argentina and Uruguay draw, Argentina would have the edge for the last automatic spot while Ecuador would need to rout Chile to overcome a goal-difference edge for Argentina and nudge them out of fourth.


PARIS: Italy scraped a draw against the Republic of Ireland to join Germany, Denmark and Serbia as the latest teams to secure 2010 World Cup places on a drama-laden penultimate batch of qualifiers.

This quartet join already-qualified England, Spain and the Netherlands, leaving two automatic berths from the continent still up for grabs heading into Wednesday’s last throw of the South Africa dice. Russia, beaten 1-0 by ten-man Germany in Moscow, and the Republic of Ireland, are among the teams assured of places in November’s two-leg play-offs.

France are also in the play-offs after routing part-timers the Faroe Islands 5-0 to book second place in Group Seven behind Serbia, who trounced Romania by the same scoreline.

North America

MEXICO CITY: Mexico and the United States qualified for the 2010 World Cup with impressive triumphs on Saturday while Costa Rica and Honduras will carry their quest for South Africa to Wednesday’s final matches.

Conor Casey scored two goals and Landon Donovan curled a free kick into the net in the 70th minute to give the Americans a 3-2 victory at Honduras, ending the hosts’ eight-match home qualifying win streak.

The Mexicans netted three goals in the last 20 minutes for a 4-1 victory over El Salvador. With one match remaining, the Americans top the table

at 6-2 with one drawn for

19 points with Mexico in second with 6-3 for 18 points. Costa Rica blanked already-eliminated Trinidad and Tobago 4-0.

The Costa Ricans improved to 5-4 for 15 points with Honduras at 4-4 with one drawn for 13 points. One of them will seize the third and last North American regional automatic qualifying spot after Wednesday’s last qualifiers.

Either Honduras or Costa Rica will finish fourth and face the fifth-place team from South America, also to be determined Wednesday, in a two-leg playoff to determine another berth in the 2010 World Cup.


JOHANNESBURG: Ivory Coast qualified for the 2010 World Cup by drawing 1-1 on Saturday and Cameroon moved closer to joining them with a 3-0 triumph over Togo.

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba scored just 120 seconds after coming on in the second half to give the Ivorian ‘Elephants’ an unassailable seven-point Group E advantage. The visitors had been rocked midway through the second half when Jacob Ngwira scored his first World Cup goal to put the ‘Flames’ ahead.

Ivory Coast have 13 points, Burkina Faso six, Malawi four and Guinea three and attention now turns to who will finish second and third after the final fixtures next month and qualify for the 2010 African Nations Cup in Angola.


MANAMA: New Zealand held an unrelenting but distinctly unlucky Bahrain to a goalless draw in the first-leg of the 2010 World Cup Asia-Oceania play-off in Manama on Saturday.

Bahrain missed at least four clear chances to score while New Zealand defended stoutly and emerged unscathed with their goalkeeper Mark Paston the hero of the evening. Bahrain enjoyed better ball possession, dictated the pace of the match but could not find the target to give meaning to their overall domination.

The second-leg is scheduled for November 14 in Wellington with the winner booking a berth for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Asian super powers Japan, Australia and South Korea along with North Korea have already book a berth in the World Cup.

• world cup qualifiers


Costa Rica 4, Trinidad and Tobago 0; Honduras 2, United States 3; Mexico 4, El Salvador 1; Denmark 1, Sweden 0; Portugal 3, Hungary 0; Greece 5, Latvia 2; Israel 3, Moldova 1; Luxembourg 0, Switzerland 3; Czech Republic 2, Poland 0; Slovakia 0, Slovenia 2; Finland 2, Wales 1; Liechtenstein 0, Azerbaijan 2; Russia 0, Germany 1; Armenia 1, Spain 2; Belgium 2, Turkey 0; Estonia 0, Bosnia-Herzegovina 2; Belarus 4, Kazakhstan 0; Ukraine 1, England 0; Austria 2, Lithuania 1; France 5, Faeroe Islands 0; Serbia 5, Romania 0; Cyprus 4, Bulgaria 1; Ireland 2, Italy 2; Montenegro 2, Georgia 1;

Argentina 2, Peru 1; Colombia 2, Chile 4; Uruguay 2, Ecuador 1; Paraguay 2, Venezuela 1; Cameroon 3, Togo 0; Gabon 3, Morocco 1; Zambia 0, Egypt 1; Malawi 1, Ivory Coast 1;

Asia-Oceania Playoff, first leg: Bahrain 0, New Zealand 0

Already qualified teams

Europe: Netherlands,

England, Spain, Germany,

Denmark, Serbia, Italy

Asia: Japan, Australia,

South Korea, North Korea

Africa: South Africa (as hosts), Ghana, Ivory Coast

South America: Brazil, Paraguay, Chile

North America: Mexico,

United States