Ecuador down Argentina, Colombia rout Peru

Associated Press

Quito, June 5:

Ecuador upset Argentina 2-0 for the first first time in nine years, and Colombia lifted its hopes in a 5-0 rout of Peru in South American World Cup qualifying on Saturday. Ecuador consolidated third place in the regional tournament with second-half goals by Cristian Lara and Agustin Delgado. Argentina suffered only its second loss in 14 qualifiers, after a 3-1 defeat in Brazil almost a year ago to the day. Argentina, which leads the South American race, hosts second-place Brazil on Wednesday. Argentina was sluggish in the second half at Atahualpa Stadium, and appeared to feel the effects of the thin air at 9,350 feet before a capacity crowd of 45,000.

Eight minutes after halftime, Neicer Reasco dribbled past four defenders to midfield then placed a perfect pass to Lara, who blasted in past goalkeeper Leandro Franco. Lara fed Delgado for his header goal in the 89th. Moments later, an argument between the squads ended with the ejection of Argentina midfielder Esteban Cambiasso. Colombia stayed in the hunt for a 2006 finals berth with a second-half barrage against Peru in more than 40-degree heat at the Caribbean port city of Barranquilla. Goals by Luis Gabriel Rey, Elkin Soto, Juan Pablo Angel, Jhon Javier Restrepo and Edixon Perea gave Colombia 17 points after 14 games, and probably sealed the fate of Peru, which has 14 points. Despite Mario Yepes missing an easy penalty kick, Gabriel Rey’s header made sure Colombia led 1-0 by halftime.

After the break, Peru’s defence collapsed, Juan Jayo Legario was sent off, and Colombia was unstoppable, highlighted by Soto’s long shot which sailed over several defenders before dropping into the corner of the net in the 55th minute.

Proud Figo

LISBON: Luis Figo said he was proud to have became Portugal’s most capped player after he emerged from a short-lived retirment on Saturday to take part in the team’s 2-0 home win over Slovakia in a World Cup qualifier. “I am not here to break records but to help the team. But at the same time this means that I have taken part in many matches for my contry,” he said. “I feel very honoured for having defended the jersey of my country so many times,” he added. Figo, 32, now counts 111 appearances since making his debut in 1991 and is the team’s third-highest scorer with 31 goals. He resumed the role of captain during the match on Saturday and was loudly cheered by the sell-out crowd of some 60,000 that included Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio when he walked onto the pitch at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari also named Figo in his squad for the WC qualifier against Estonia in Tallinn on Wednesday. — AFP