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Monday, September 7, 2009

Brazil qualify for World Cup

Brazil qualified for its 19th consecutive World Cup, leaving Argentina to join Portugal and France with difficult paths to reach next year's tournament.

Defending champion Italy and European champion Spain maintained their leads in Europe, while England and Germany won friendlies ahead of qualifiers on Wed-nesday. And in Africa, Cameroon boosted their chances with their first victory in the final round of qualifying.

Luisao put Brazil ahead in the 24th minute at Rosario, Argentina, and Luis Fabiano scored in the 30th and 67th. Jesus Datolo scored in the 65th for Argentina, which will be under pressure to remove coach Diego Maradona.

Brazil lead South American qualifying with 30 points, three ahead of Chile and Paraguay and eight in front of Argentina with three matches remaining. The top-four teams advance to the World Cup while the No. 5 nation goes to a play-off against the No. 4 nation in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Brazil became the seventh nation to join host South Africa in next year's 32-nation field, following Australia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and the Netherlands.

Argentina lost a home qualifier for the first time since a 5-0 defeat to Colombia in 1993.

Cristiano Ronaldo, the FIFA player of the year, is in danger of missing the World Cup after Portugal needed a last-minute goal by Liedson for a 1-1 draw against Denmark. Nicklas Bendtner gave the Danes the lead in the 41st minute.

Group One

Denmark lead Group One with 17 points, four ahead of Hungary, which lost 2-1 at home to Sweden when Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in injury time. Sweden are third with 12 points and Portugal have 10 heading into Wednesday's game against Hungary. The top team qualifies from each of the nine European groups and the best eight second-place teams go to play-offs.

France likely will have to win a play-off for a World Cup berth after a disappointing 1-1 tie with Romania at Saint-Denis.

France looked in control after Thierry Henry's 48th-minute goal, but defender Julien Escude turned the ball past his goalkeeper Hugo Llorisslid while attempting to intercept a cross seven minutes later.

"The objective is to qualify, no matter how we get there. I'm not in the habit of giving up," France coach Raymond Domenech said. "There's still everything to play for, nothing is finished yet. It will go down to the last game."

Les Bleus are second in Group Seven with 14 points, four behind Serbia heading into their meeting at Belgrade on Wednesday.

The Czech Republic played to a 2-2 draw at Slovakia, which could qualify for their first major tournament. Substitute forward Milan Baros headed in his 34th international goal in the 84th minute for the Czechs.

Slovakia heads Group Three with 16 points, two ahead of Northern Ireland. The Czechs are fifth with nine.

At Tblisi, Georgia captain Kakha Kaladze - who plays for AC Milan - headed two own goals in the 57th and 67th, giving Italy a 2-0 victory over Georgia.

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