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Argentina secures Cup berth
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 16 - 10 - 2009

Argentina ended its long struggle, landing a spot in next year's World Cup thanks to Wednesday's 1-0 victory at bitter rival Uruguay behind an 84th-minute goal by substitute Mario Bolatti.
Despite the loss, Uruguay - the No. 5 team in South American qualifying - faces a two-game playoff in November against Costa Rica, the No. 4 team from North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Ecuador, which also had a chance to advance, was eliminated after a 1-0 loss at Chile. Ecuador was trying for its third straight berth in the World Cup.
Brazil, Chile and Paraguay had already clinched places before Argentina became the fourth and final automatic qualifier. The victory saved face for two-time champion Argentina, which has not missed a World Cup since 1970. Brazil topped the standings with 34 points, Chile and Paraguay had 33 and Argentina 28. Uruguay finished with 24 and Ecuador 23.
In the last qualifiers in South America, all of which had no affect on the remaining berths, it was: Peru 1, Bolivia 0; Brazil 0, Venezuela 0; and Paraguay 0, Colombia 2.
Honduras in World Cup
Honduras' 1-0 victory at El Salvador, which earned the tiny Central American nation a place in next year's World Cup, drove thousands to the streets Wednesday to celebrate in the capital Tegucigalpa.
Honduras needed a little help to reach the final 32 in South Africa next summer. That came in Washington, D.C. where Jonathan Bornstein headed in the equalizer in the fifth minute of injury time to give the United States a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica. Costa Rica needed only to hold the lead a few more seconds to get the automatic berth.
Instead, Honduras qualifies and Costa Rica faces a two-game playoff in November against South America's No. 5 team Uruguay for another berth Argentina defeated Uruguay 1-0 Wednesday to claim South America's last automatic berth.
The United States finished No. 1 in the CONCACAF qualifying group with 20 points. Mexico, which drew 2-2 at Trinidad and Tobago in a largely meaningless game, finished with 19. Honduras and Costa Rica both had 16, but Honduras advanced on superior goal difference. El Salvador finished with eight and Trinidad had six. Honduras' victorious football team seemed to unite the country.

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