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Monday 8. September 2003 - 07:55

Brazil opens World Cup qualifying with 2-1 win at Colombia

Defending champion Br azil opened qualifying for the 2006 World Cup with a 2-1 win at Colombia on Sunday night behind goals from Ronaldo and Kaka.

A little more than 14 months after Br azil beat Germany 2-0 in the final on a pair of Ronaldo goals to win its record fifth World Cup, Ronaldo got his team started again, scoring in the 22nd minute off a pass from Ze Roberto.

Juan Pablo Angel tied it with a header in the 38th minute but Kaka, a second-half substitute, got what turned out to be the decisive goal in the 60th.

Br azil was without Ronaldinho, serving a suspension, and Kleberson, who injured a shoulder last weekend.

For the 2002 tournament, Br azil struggled just to qualify. The Br azilians began the 2002 qualifying campaign with a scoreless tie against Colombia in Bogota and went 9-6-3 in qualifying, including 2-6-1 on the road. Br azil finished third behind Argentina and Ecuador -- the top four nations in the region receive automatic berths, and the No. 5 team advances to a playoff.

In Sunday's other game, Uruguay routed visiting Bolivia 5-0 in Montevideo. Javier Chevanton scored twice, and Diego Forlan, Nelson Abeijon and Carlos Bueno got one goal each.

In Saturday's games, Chile overcame a two-goal deficit to tie Argentina 2-2 in the first qualifier for the 2006 tournament, Ecuador beat visiting Venezuela 2-0 and Peru routed Paraguay 4-1 in Lima.

Teams quickly must prepare for their next games: Tuesday's schedule has Argentina at Venezuela and Peru at Chile. The following day has Ecuador at Br azil, Colombia at Bolivia and Uruguay at Paraguay.

South America and Africa were given permission by soccer's governing body to start qualifying ahead of the Dec. 5 draw in Frankfurt, Germany. The United States expects to play its opener in January.

Qualifying will last until November 2005, reducing the field of 198 teams to the 31 that will join host Germany. This is the first World Cup in which the defending champion doesn't receive an automatic berth.  
Provided by: Frank Henriksen
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