| Ronaldinho is hugged by Roberto Carlos (centre) and Luis Fabiano after he scored against Ecuador, during their World Cup 2006 qualifier in Manaus, northern Brazil, on Wednesday. (AFP)
Rio de Janeiro: Bolivia and Paraguay, both thrashed in their opening World Cup qualifiers at the weekend, hit back by scoring four goals each on Wednesday in an astonishing start to the marathon South American tournament.
World champions Brazil beat Ecuador by a modest 1-0 in Manaus, which lies in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, and are the only team with maximum points from two games.
Ronaldinho bundled in an early goal but it was not enough for the crowd who jeered the five-times World Cup winners.
Bolivia, hammered 5-0 by Uruguay on Sunday in a performance which their own coach Nelson Acosta described as naive, bounced back to thump Colombia 4-0 in La Paz.
Uruguay, for their part, crashed to a 4-1 defeat in Asuncion against Paraguay — who had lost their opening match by the same scoreline to Peru.
With two of the 18 rounds of matches in the marathon South American competition complete, Argentina and Chile have four points each followed by Uruguay, Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia and Ecuador with three. Colombia and Venezuela have yet to get off the mark.
Record-breaking strikers Joaquin Botero and Jose Cardozo both hit hattricks for Bolivia and Paraguay, respectively.
Brazil’s players had promised a footballing feast in Manaus but instead served up an unappetising display, with nothing to show except one scrambled goal, which was awarded to Ronaldinho even though it seemed to go in off defender Neicer Reasco. Ecuador were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the second half after Reasco was bundled over in the penalty area.
“The important thing was to start with two wins,” said left-back Roberto Carlos. “They defended for the whole 90 minutes, that’s why it wasn’t a good game. They only had one chance and made the game dull. The supporters don’t like that sort of thing.” (Reuters)