Vampeta revitalises faltering Brazilians

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The Independent Online

Brazil finally produced a performance worthy of their reputation in the World Cup qualifiers on Wednesday night as they beat Argentina 3-1 in a pulsating match in front of 80,000 fans here. Two goals from Vampeta helped end the Argentinians' 100 per cent record in the group.

Brazil finally produced a performance worthy of their reputation in the World Cup qualifiers on Wednesday night as they beat Argentina 3-1 in a pulsating match in front of 80,000 fans here. Two goals from Vampeta helped end the Argentinians' 100 per cent record in the group.

Brazil had feared the worst after their defeat in Paraguay last week. With two wins, two draws and one defeat, their form had been in stark contrast to the rampant Argentinians.

The Brazil coach Wanderley Luxemburgo had been under fire for constantly chopping and changing the team, and on Wednesday, even with his side in the lead, his decision late in the game to replace the striker Alex with a defensive mid-fielder in Cesar Sampaio was met with chants of "idiot, idiot" from the crowd. He has become so unpopular that Brazilian officials advised him to wear a tracksuit instead of one of his trademark designer suits for the game to bring him "closer to the public". Luxemburgo declined and was immaculately turned out as usual.

His Argentina counterpart, Marcelo Bielsa, whose attacking 3-4-3 formation had brought victory in their opening five games, could only watch as his country suffered defeat in their first-ever World Cup qualifier against Brazil.

Alex gave the hosts the lead after four minutes. Argentina failed to clear a corner, and Antonio Carlos crossed for the midfielder to head home. Argentina began to take the initiative but missed the running of Javier Zanetti on the right and Kiko Gonzalez on the left. The former was fully occupied in having to mark Ze Roberto, while Gonzalez was losing out to Vampeta, who put Brazil two-up just before the break.

Vampeta won the ball on the edge of his own penalty area and passed to Ronald-inho Gaucho, who backheeled back into his path. Vampeta strode into the Argentine half and passed to Alex on his left. Alex unleashed a swerving 20-yard shot which Roberto Bonano could only parry and Vampeta followed up to score from the rebound.

Argentina immediately struck back with a magnificent goal, substitute Matias Almeyda trading passes with Juan Sebastian Veron and Hernan Crespo before lashing in a left-foot shot.

Six minutes after the interval, Vampeta made the game safe for Brazil, Roberto Carlos' deep free-kick being played back across the area by Ronaldinho Gaucho for Vampeta to poke into the far corner.

In Montevideo, Uruguay's progress toward the World Cup finals was slowed when they were held to a goalless draw by a defiant Peru, who had lost their previous three games.

Brazil: Dida; Evanilson, Antonio Carlos, Roque Junior, Roberto Carlos; Vampeta, Emerson, Alex (Cesar Sampaio, 74), Ze Roberto (Marques, 61); Ronaldinho Gaucho, Rivaldo.

Argentina: Bonano; Sensini, Ayala, Samuel; Zanetti (Almeyda, 39), Simeone, Veron, Gonzalez (Sorin, 72); Ortega (Gustavo Lopes, 72), Crespo, Claudio Lopes.

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