Striker Nilmar capitalised on a piece of good fortune to earn Brazil a 2-1 home win over Paraguay on Wednesday that keeps them top of the South American World Cup qualifying table.
Nilmar, who had a quiet first half, chested a Felipe Melo
pass towards Kaka, only for the ball to come back to him off
the unfortunate Julio Cesar Caceres and the striker managed to
scramble it home in the 50th minute.
Paraguay went ahead midway through the first half when
Salvador Cabanas's free kick from outside the box took a
deflection off Elano and looped over Brazil goalkeeper Julio
Robinho then volleyed an exquisite equaliser four minutes
before halftime from Daniel Alves's cross from the right.
Brazil have 27 points with four matches to go in the
10-team South American group. Paraguay are third with 24
points, two behind second placed Chile, with Argentina fourth
The top four qualify automatically for next year's finals
in South Africa.
"It was a match in which we had to be patient and
persistent," Brazil coach Dunga told reporters.
"We had to try playing on the wings, at speed, changing
sides. Everyone plays tight away from home and that makes it
difficult to win.
"We need three more points to be sure (of qualifying)," he
Brazil squandered several chances towards the end of an
exciting second half, played in a torrential downpour in front
of a crowd of 66,000 in the tropical city of Recife.
Paraguay had less possession but posed more threat with
their counter-attacks in the first half, midfielder Carlos
Bonet shooting just over the bar and busy striker Osvaldo
Martinez going close from a tight angle before Cabanas opened
His goal was only the second conceded by Brazil at home in
the qualifiers and Julio Cesar had to be alert to prevent
Cabanas from scoring again in the 70th minute.
Paraguay keeper Justo Villar made a diving save from
Robinho close to the hour and the striker also went close with
a free kick and shot over near the end after a good cross from
Kaka, who signed for Real Madrid earlier this week, was
guilty of a miss himself when he put the ball wide from a metre
out following a low cross by marauding central defender Lucio.
Brazil visit arch-rivals Argentina in their next match,
with the home side clinging desperately to an automatic
qualifying berth after a 2-0 loss away to Ecuador.