FIFA WORLD CUP: Uruguay, Argentina get 2010 ball rolling

Uruguay made a dominant start and Argentina also notched a win when South America’s World Cup qualifying tournament kicked off on Saturday.

Uruguay crushed Bolivia 5-0, a Juan Roman Riquelme brace gave Argentina a 2-0 win over Chile and Venezuela caused the first upset by winning 1-0 away in Ecuador. Peru and Paraguay played out a scoreless draw. Colombia were to host Brazil yesterday.

Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan, Sebastian Abreu, Vicente Sanchez and Carlos Buenos all scored for two-time World Cup champions Uruguay as the race began for a place at South Africa 2010.

Suarez gave the hosts the lead in the fourth minute at the Centenario with a right-footed shot. Forlan made it 2-0 in the 37th with a firmly hit shot.

Bolivia’s hopes of stemming the tide suffered when Ronald Garcia was sent off four minutes before half time. Abreu scored Uruguay’s third goal off a rebound inside the area just two minutes into the second half.

Sanchez scored in the 65th and Bueno added another in the 82nd.

Uruguay visits Paraguay on Wednesday, while Bolivia hosts Colombia.

In Buenos Aires, Riquelme scored free-kicks in the 26th and 45th minutes in Argentina’s victory.

The Villareal playmaker placed precise shots past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to the left upper corner of the net each time.

For us it was important to begin the series by winning. The team is playing well right now and we deservedly won, Riquelme said. We are happy with how we are playing … I believe we are capable of continue to win this way.

Chile exerted heavy early pressure, closely marking forwards Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez, limiting their effectiveness.

And Chile came close to scoring, first off the boot of Arturo Vidal in the fourth minute and again in the 15th off a powerful kick by Humberto Suazo. On both occasion, Argentine goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri blocked clear chances at goals.

Argentine started to power up as Tevez threatened in the area after a pass from Riquelme in the first period that he just couldn’t capitalize on. Maxi Rodriguez also had another scoring chance in the 31st minute, his shot sizzling just wide of the left upright.

Chile’s veteran striker Marcelo Salas came on at halftime and soon had a scoring chance four minutes into the half but was called offside as he approached Abbondanzieri in a one-on-one situation.

In the 54th minute, Cristian Alvarez was sent off, but Chile continued attacking, with Suazo and Salas threatening the Argentine net.

Argentina will play its next match Tuesday against Venezuela in Maracaibo while Chile welcomes Peru in Santiago in its upcoming match next week.

In Quito, Venezuela won away at a sluggish Ecuador thanks to a 77th minute freekick by Jose Manuel Rey.

Ecuador tired after missing clear shots in the first half. Forward Cristian Benitez failed to cash in on two good opportunities early in the match.

Ecuador reached the second round in last year’s World Cup in Germany, but were eager to redeem themselves after a first-round exit at the Copa America in June and July, while Venezuela are chasing a first ever World Cup appearance.

In Lima, aside from one shot by Peru forward Claudio Pizarro, blocked by goalkeeper Justo Villar in the 17th minute, Paraguay’s solid defense gave Peru few scoring chances.

Paraguay dominated the second half but were unable to score. Forward Nelson Haedo had a clumsy shot saved and was replaced by Oscar Cardozo for pain in his right shoulder.

Peru next face Chile in Santiago on Oct. 17, when Paraguay host Uruguay.