| Ronaldo is challenged by Paraguay’s Julio Cesar Caceres (right) and Francisco Arce in Asuncion on Wednesday. (AFP)
Asuncion: World champions Brazil were held to a goalless draw by Paraguay in an uncompromising, foul-ridden World Cup qualifier on Wednesday.
In other matches in South America, Venezuela pulled off yet another upset with a comprehensive 3-0 away win over Uruguay while Colombia put two goals past Peru for their first win in the qualifiers.
Paraguay never let Brazil settle, keeping the visitors’ feared trio of Kaka, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo under wraps with a combination of tough marking, determined defending and several slices of luck.
Brazil gave as good as they got with midfielder Gilberto Silva and defender Lucio both lucky to stay on the pitch after persistent fouling.
Ronaldo had a quiet game but was himself booked in the 16th minute after an ugly tangle with Paraguay’s Delio Toledo, who was also shown the yellow card.
Paraguay stayed second in the South American qualifying group with ten points from five games while Brazil are a further point behind in third place.
Both sides won several free kicks but Francisco Arce’s efforts for Paraguay and Ronaldinho’s shots for Brazil were all wasted, the latter sending two balls straight into the defensive wall. Paraguay were lucky not to concede a penalty when Carlos Gamarra appeared to trip Ronaldinho, although the Barcelona player made a meal of the incident.
Ronaldo had a rare chance early in the second half when he burst down the left but his low shot was well saved by Ricardo Tavarelli. Almost immediately, Bayern Munich striker Santa Cruz had a similar effort saved by Dida at the other end.
Gamarra had another lucky escape when he appeared to bring down Ronaldo but the same player saved Paraguay when he deflected away a Roberto Carlos free kick when it was heading for the bottom corner.
Paraguay nearly snatched an injury time winner when defender Paulo da Silva had a free header from a corner but he failed to make proper contact.
In Montevideo, Venezuela registered a comprehensive 3-0 away win over Uruguay — a scoreline which would have been unthinkable until just a few years ago.
Gabriel Urdaneta fired Venezuela in front with a spectacular first-half strike before Hector Gonzalez and Juan Arango scored second half breakaway goals as Uruguay fell apart.
In Lima, first-half goals by Freddy Grisales and Frankie Oviedo gave Colombia a 2-0 win over Peru, their first victory of the 2006 World Cup qualifying competition.