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Late rescue lifts Argentine World Cup hopes

11 October 2009 03:35

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - Martin Palermo's goal two minutes into second-half stoppage time lifted Argentina past doormat Peru 2-1 in World Cup qualifying, rescuing the South Africa dreams of Diego Maradona's side.

After being booed off the field following a goal-less first half and looking undone after Peru equalized in the final seconds of regulation time, Argentina is now the team to beat for the last automatic World Cup spot in South America.

Gonzalo Higuain took a pass from Pablo Aimar and scored from an angle in the 48th minute to give Argentina a 1-0 lead.

But Peru, a side with two wins in 17 final-round qualifying matches, stunned the hosts in the 90th minute when Hernan Rengifo neaded home an equalizer in a driving wind and rain.

Much-crtiticized Diego Maradona, the retired star player whose rocky tenure as coach would be considered an epic failure if Argentina misses the World Cup, found salvation thanks to Palmero, who entered in the second half.

Argentina improved to 7-6 with four drawn in qualifying for 25 points entering a showdown match next Wednesday at Uruguay, which won 2-1 at Ecuador to remain on Argentina's heels at 6-5 with six drawn and 24 points.

Whichever side wins will book the last automatic spot in the World Cup finals, joining Brazil, Paraguay and Chile.

The loser would need help to hold off Ecuador for fifth place, which would book a berth against North America's fourth-place finisher to decide a berth in South Africa.

Should Argentina and Uruguay draw, Argentina would have the edge for the last automatic spot while Ecuador would need to rout Chile to overcome a goal-difference edge for Argentina and nudge them out of fourth.

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Info

2 - 1

Peru

W L L D L

Goals

1 - 0
1 - 1
M. Palermo 90'+2  
2 - 1

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