Brazil booked a place in net year’s World Cup and further threatened arch rival Argentina’s chances of qualifying by winning their qualifier 3-1 on Saturday.
Luis Fabiano scored two goals and Luisao added another for Brazil, raising the pressure on Argentina coach Diego Maradona.
The victory in the World Cup qualifier guarantees Brazil a place in net year’s 32-team tournament -- as expected. The five-time champions have played in every World Cup. Six other nations have already advanced: Australia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and the Netherlands. South Africa qualifies automatically as host.
Luis Fabiano scored in the 30th and 67th with Luisao opening the scoring in the 24th. Jesus Datolo got Argentina’s goal in the 65th.
Brazil tops the South American group with 30 points. Argentina is hanging on in fourth place with 22 with Ecuador and Colombia (20) right behind. The top four qualify automatically. The No. 5 faces a playoff with the No. 4 team from the CONCACAF region for another berth.
Argentina benefited from Colombia’s 2-0 victory over Ecuador on Saturday. Had Ecuador won, it would have moved ahead of Argentina and pushed the Gauchos out of the top four.
Argentina plays on Wednesday at Paraguay and Brazil is home against Chile. Argentina wraps up qualifying with a home match Oct. 10 against Peru and away at Uruguay on Oct. 13.
Brazil plays at Bolivia on Oct. 10 and is home against Venezuela on Oct. 13.
Argentina had not lost a home qualifying match in 15 years and started the match confidently, Juan Sebastian Veron and Lionel Messi dictating possession and pinning Brazil back in front of 40,000 in Rosario.
Messi shot narrowly wide and then sliced through three challenges as Argentina threatened to open the scoring in the first 15 minutes.
Brazil hit back with devastating effect, scoring two goals in barely seven minutes to leave the disorganized Argentine defence in shreds.
In Brazil’s first real attack, Elano crossed for Luisao to head home. The ball flew past goalkeeper Mariano Andujar, leaving serious questions about the space given to the Brazilian defender in the heart of the bo.
The second hammer blow came after Gilberto Silva lifted a high cross into the bo. As the ball bobbled, Luis Fabiano pounced to force the ball past Andujar.
Argentina almost cut the deficit in the 38th minute when Carlos Tevez centered and Mai Rodriguez forced Julio Cesar to make a fantastic stop with his legs from close range.
In the second half, Argentina resorted to high crosses in an attempt to disturb the Brazilian defense.
Datolo gave the Argentine supporters hope after receiving a pass from Veron and launching an unstoppable drive from outside the area.
The comeback chance was soon snuffed out. Kaka was again the creator with a measured pass to Luis Fabiano who made no mistake with the finish and reestablished Brazil’s two-goal lead.
Argentina: Mariano Andujar, Javier Zanetti, Nicolas Otamendi, Sebastian Dominguez, Gabriel Heinze, Mai Rodriguez (Sergio Aguero, 45th, Javier Mascherano, Juan Sebastian Veron, Jesus Datolo, Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez (Diego Milito, 69th).
Brazil: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Luisao, Andre Santos, Elano (Dani Alves (68th), Gilberto Silva, Felipe Melo, Kaka, Robinho (Ramirez, 68th), Luis Fabiano (Adriano, 76th)