| Brazilians celebrate a goal during the South American World Cup qualifier against Colombia in Barranquilla, Colombia, on Sunday. Brazil won 2-1. (AFP)
Rio de Janeiro: Brazil began their World Cup defence with a 2-1 win away to Colombia on Sunday in their opening qualifier for the 2006 finals while Uruguay broke free of their negative tendencies to hammer five goals past Bolivia.
AC Milan midfielder Kaka came on as a second-half substitute for Brazil and scored the winner with his first kick of the game in the steamy Caribbean port of Barranquilla.
Ronaldo had put the world champions ahead in the first half while Colombia replied through Juan Pablo Angel.
Javier Chevanton scored twice as Uruguay routed Bolivia in Montevideo after Manchester United striker Diego Forlan made the breakthrough. Nelson Abeijon and Carlos Bueno completed the scoring.
The two games completed the first round of the marathon South American World Cup qualifying competition in which the ten countries play each other twice over two years and two months. The contest continues with another round midweek.
Brazil, who have to qualify under new Fifa rules which no longer give the champions an automatic place at the following finals, staggered through the qualifiers for 2002 using four coaches and losing six matches on the way. Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, back for a third stint in one of the game’s hottest seats, was determined to avoid more frights this time and was happy with the good start.
“I don’t think I’ve got much to say except that we started well,” he told Brazilian television. “We are the only team to start with an away win. We deserved the scoreline, we had the better of the game. It's a long road, this was just the first game.”
The first half was played at a pedestrian pace in suffocating heat until Ronaldo, who has been to three World Cup tournaments but was making his debut in the qualifiers, struck in the 24th minute, scoring from a pass by Ze Roberto.
Colombia equalised out of the blue in the 39th minute when Freddy Grisales crossed from the right and Aston Villa’s Juan Pablo Angel out-jumped Lucio to head past Dida. Kaka came on in the 60th minute and scored the winner two minutes later, firing a first-time shot past Oscar Cordoba with his first touch of the ball from a pass laid off to him by Ronaldo.
Uruguay had little difficulty overcoming Bolivia, who finished with ten men after Alvaro Ricaldi was sent off in the second half for a second bookable offence. Forlan took advantage of slack marking to score in the 17th minute to open the scoring.
Chevanton, who plays for Italian club Lecce, scored twice to make it 3-0 on the hour before Abeijon, recalled after six years in the international wilderness, and Carlos Bueno finished off the Bolivians.
“They played the way I wanted, the way people expected,” said coach Juan Carrasco.
Bolivia, at home to Colombia on Wednesday, were left ruing their mistakes and hoping they can make the most of playing at 3,600m above sea level in La Paz.