Football: Fighting Asprilla sent off

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The Independent Online
Faustino Asprilla was among six players to be shown red cards in four matches as the lid on the simmering pot known as the South American World Cup qualifying group was well and truly blown off on Wednesday night.

In La Paz Argentina's Nelson Vivas was sent off for two bookable offences in quick succession against Bolivia, and he should have been followed by Gustavo Zapata, but Zapata's refusal to leave sparked the first brawl of the night. The main event, though, came when Argentina's Julio Cruz went to fetch the ball near the Bolivian bench.

The Bolivian team assistant, Javier Avila, allegedly punched Cruz several times and knocked him down. Other Argentinian players and Bolivian riot police joined in the fight while spectators hurled projectiles. A policeman left Argentina's Carlos Roja in severe pain by spraying him in the face with gas. After 17 minutes of "injury time", the game ended 2-1 to Bolivia.

In Asuncion, the Paraguayan goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert came to blows with Colombia's Asprilla late in the game. The incident, in the 81st minute, led to a penalty which was converted by Mauricio Serna to wipe out Paraguay's lead. But Derlis Soto slid in Paraguay's winner less than two minutes later.

In Lima, Ecuador ended with nine men after forward Agustin Delgado was sent off in the 48th minute and the captain, Luis Capurro, followed in the 84th minute for hitting an opponent. Ecuador still managed to draw 1-1 with Peru.

Uruguay beat Venezuela 3-1 in relative peace and quiet, all of which means that the group is still wide open with seven games each to play. The top four countries qualify.

Nor was there any argument over Brazil's 4-0 demolition of a Chile side shorn of its three best players, Salas, Rozenthal and Zamorano, in a friendly in Brasilia. Romario and Ronaldo scored twice each as the world champions clocked up another rather meaningless success after victories over Lithuania, Cameroon, Bosnia and Poland.