Burgos untroubled as Argentina march on

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Venus De Milo is the nickname some of Argentina's more unkind supporters give to their reserve goalkeeper, German Burgos. There was concern when, with the first choice, Roberto Bonano, suspended, Burgos came into the side for Sunday's World Cup qualifier at home to old rivals Uruguay.

Venus De Milo is the nickname some of Argentina's more unkind supporters give to their reserve goalkeeper, German Burgos. There was concern when, with the first choice, Roberto Bonano, suspended, Burgos came into the side for Sunday's World Cup qualifier at home to old rivals Uruguay.

In the event the arms of Burgos were rarely called upon. Both teams were missing key players, a state of affairs which clearly harms Uruguay more than Argentina. Drawing on a population of just over 3 million, it is not easy for Uruguay to shrug off the loss of their best defender (Paolo Montero), midfielder (Fabian O'Neill) and striker (Dario Silva). In addition to Bonano, the hosts were without Roberto Sensini, Javier Zanetti, Juan Veron and Ariel Ortega. But they were able to call on reserves of the quality of Marcelo Gallardo, the sparkling attacking midfielder from Monaco who opened the scoring with a superbly placed shot.

Gabriel Batistuta then celebrated his return to the national team by belting home a second. Federico Magallanes quickly pulled one back, but Argentina's pressing game forced the visitors' midfield to retreat. The Uruguay coach, Daniel Passarella, back on the ground where he made his name, used all the attacking options at his disposal, but without control of midfield his team made little impression.

The 2-1 win leaves Argentina five points clear at the top of the table with the campaign at the half-way stage. Uruguay slip to fifth and if the competition finished now they would have to play off against the champions of Oceania. Away form has been their undoing; going back into the last campaign they have not had a win in their last 11 World Cup qualifiers on their travels.

Brazil have also had their problems on the road - they had lost their previous two away games before steadying the ship on Sunday with a 6-0 romp in Venezuela.

With Wanderley Luxemburgo sacked, his assistant Candinho took charge for this game only and based his attack on the club understanding of a quartet from Vasco da Gama. For 20 minutes Brazil produced little more than a wretched collection of misplaced passes. Venezuela, the continent's traditional whipping boys, were growing in confidence until a poor back pass gave Euller, "the son of the wind", the chance to race away to open the scoring and the game was over as a contest. Silvinho crossed for Juninho to head a second, and then came the Romario exhibition. Anxious to show that he should have gone to the Olympics, Romario helped himself to four goals. Despite playing just two of the nine games, Romario is the competition's top scorer with seven.

Brazil moved up to second place, and Candinho dedicated the victory to Luxemburgo, a thought which Romario is unlikely to share. Luxemburgo's successor could be named this week, with Oswaldo de Oliveira of Vasco and Levir Culpi of São Paulo seen as the favourites. Whoever is overlooked might be interested in a certain vacancy at Lancaster Gate.

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