Buenos Aires - Brazil became Saturday the first South American side to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with a 3-1 away win over arch-rivals Argentina.
With three rounds of play left, Brazil - the winners of a record five editions of the World Cup - leads the qualifiers' table with 30 points in 15 games. That guarantees that they will be at least fourth in the qualifying round and therefore get to play in South Africa.
Argentina started off well in Rosario. They had possession of the ball, although they enjoyed no clear chances. Only their superstar striker Lionel Messi got a shot on goal from a long-distance effort, but he was off target.
In the 24th minute, however, Luisao made the most of Brazil's first chance. Amid poor defending from Argentina, he headed the ball alone off an Elano free kick, and found the net.
Only six minutes later, Argentine keeper Mariano Andujar blocked a shot from Maicon, but man-of-the-match Luis Fabiano took the rebound and made things 2-0.
Brazil had everything under control from then on, at least until midfielder Jesus Datolo put the hosts back in the game with a great long-range shot.
Argentina's newfound hopes were shortlived, however. Only two minutes later, Kaka got a great ball through to Luis Fabiano, and the Sevilla striker brilliantly chipped the ball over Andujar.
Barcelona's Messi - a native of Rosario and arguably the best player in the world - put in a very lacklustre performance and was often imprecise, while Tevez contributed little more than effort for Argentina. (dpa)