Maradona: Bolivia goals a "stab in the heart"
Argentina were thumped 6-1 by Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday and shattered coach Diego Maradona said that each goal was like a stab in his heart.
Argentina forward Lionel Messi was upstaged by a player from the Mexican second division as Maradona's 100 percent record went up in smoke at 3,600 metres above sea level in La Paz.
Bolivia striker Joaquin Botero, who plays for a team called Correcaminos (Road Runners), scored a hat-trick and took his tally in the competition to eight goals.
Marcelo Martins, Alex Da Rosa and Didi Torrico were also on target for Bolivia as Argentina shipped six goals for the first time since they lost by the same score to Czechoslovakia at the 1958 World Cup.
Luis Gonzalez replied for Argentina, briefly putting them back on level terms in the 25th minute, before a Botero penalty and Alex Da Rosa header gave Bolivia a 3-1 halftime lead, Martins having opened the scoring the 12th minute.
Botero added two more in the second half and Torrico completed the rout.
"I suffered with them (the Argentine public)," Maradona told reporters, himself appearing short of breath. "Every Bolivia goal was a stab in my heart.
"If we had dreamed this was going to happen before the game, we would have thought it was impossible."
Before taking over as coach last October, Maradona had publicly backed Bolivia's campaign against a FIFA ban on high altitude matches, playing in a charity match in La Paz alongside the country's president Evo Morales.
The ban was later overturned.
Argentina slipped to fourth in the 10-team group with 19 points from 12 games, the lowest of the positions in which they can finish and qualify directly for South Africa in 2010.
Fifth place would mean a two-leg play off against the fourth side from the CONCACAF region.
Paraguay have 24 points while Brazil are three behind but only eight points separate them from eighth-placed Venezuela.
Sandwiched in between are Chile (20), Argentina, Uruguay (17) and Colombia and Ecuador (14).
Substitute Cristian Noboa headed Ecuador ahead against Paraguay in the 64th minute in Quito, which is 2,800 metres above sea level.
Ecuador's Edison Mendez hit the crossbar and Paraguay defender Paulo da Silva was sent off, yet the resilient visitors left with a point when Edgar Benitez volleyed home in the second minute of injury-time.
"It was a fair reward because we deserved to take something from here," said Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino, whose side are on course for a fourth successive World Cup.
Brazil had little trouble in overcoming demoralised, table-propping Peru in Porto Alegre.
Luis Fabiano put them ahead with an 18th minute penalty after a foul on Kaka and added another nine minutes later.
Midfielder Felipe Melo scored the third in the 64th minute of a hopelessly one-sided game.
Chile managed to hold Uruguay to a goalless draw at home in Santiago despite having midfielder Mauricio Isla sent off in the 34th minute.
Uruguay attacked throughout the second half, finishing the game with four strikers, but were unable to force the winner.
"I think we lost two points," said Uruguay coach Oscar Washington Tabarez.