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Argentina Hammered By Boliva

I thought it was an April Fool’s joke but it is true. Bolivia hammered Argentina 6-1 in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa qualifying.

Striker Joaquin Botero led the charge with a hat-trick that included a penalty, while Marcelo Martins, Didi Torrico and Brazilian-born Alex da Rosa shared the others. Luis Gonzalez replied for the visitors, who suffered their worst defeat since an infamous 5-0 home loss to Colombia in 1993.

Argentina’s misery was completed when substitute Angel di Maria was sent off after only seven minutes on the pitch. Maradona’s team have 19 points from 12 games in the 10-team South American Zone while Bolivia have 12 points.

Argentina’s attempts to keep possession were thwarted as the ball bobbled on the difficult pitch, while Maradona looked on helplessly. Bolivia employed their usual tactic of peppering the visitors goal with long-range shots, hoping the unusual flight of the ball would catch out goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo.

Carrizo had already turned away one Martins shot before Bolivia went ahead in the 12th minute when the Ukraine-based forward scrambled the ball in after a mix-up in the defence. Torrico then hit the crossbar with a 30-metre effort.

Lionel Messi nearly pulled one back in the 20th minute when he ran from the halfway line, played a one-two with Carlos Tevez and scooped the ball over Carlos Arias who just managed to tip it away. Five minutes later, Luis Gonzalez levelled with a speculative 40-metre shot which bounced awkwardly six metres in front of goal and flew over Arias into the net.

Bolivia regained the lead eight minutes later when Javier Zanetti was judged to have fouled Da Rosa and Botero converted the penalty. In the 45th minute, Arias sent a long goal kick up field to Botero who got behind the Argentina defence and pulled the ball back for Da Rosa to head the third.

Botero, who plays in the Mexican second division for Correcaminos, headed Bolivia’s fourth in the 54th minute. He completed his hat-trick 11 minutes later when he latched on to a chipped ball forward and slipped a neat finish past Carrizo for his eighth goal of the qualifiers.

Di Maria, who came on for Maxi Rodriguez in the 57th minute, was sent off for a wild lunge at Ronald Garcia seven minutes later.