Fairytale return for Argentine great Maradona

BUENOS AIRES - Diego Maradona made a dream home debut as Argentina coach when his side demolished Venezuela 4-0 in a 2010 World Cup qualifier on Saturday while Uruguay and Colombia followed suit with home wins.

BUENOS AIRES - Diego Maradona made a dream home debut as Argentina coach when his side demolished Venezuela 4-0 in a 2010 World Cup qualifier on Saturday while Uruguay and Colombia followed suit with home wins.

Uruguay beat South American group leaders Paraguay 2-0 while Colombia ended a five-match goal drought as they overcame struggling Bolivia by the same score.

Paraguay stayed top of the 10-team South American group with 23 points from 11 games while Argentina went second, four points behind.

Brazil, third with 17 points, visited Ecuador, who were seventh with 12 points, yesterday.

Uruguay moved into fourth place with 16 points, ahead of Chile on goal difference, and Colombia climbed to sixth with 14. Chile were away to table-propping Peru yesterday.

The top four teams qualify for South Africa and the fifth plays off against the fourth team from the CONCACAF zone.

Lionel Messi inspired Argentina by scoring their first goal and setting up the second on a day Maradona described as better than fiction.

Maradona, who began his reign with friendly wins away to Scotland and France, was given a rousing reception by the crowd when he came onto the field before the game at the Monumental stadium for his first competitive match at the helm.

"This was better than I expected, reality has overcome fiction," said Maradona. "I couldn't have imagined what happened today. It was perfect."

Messi opened the scoring after a one-two with Carlos Tevez in the 26th minute and returned the compliment by providing the cross for Tevez's first goal of the qualifiers two minutes after half time.

Maximiliano Rodriguez and Sergio Aguero added two more as Argentina chalked up their 16th win in as many meetings with Venezuela.

Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlan set Uruguay on their way in Montevideo when he scored into an empty net after being cleverly set up by Luis Suarez in the 28th minute.

Captain Diego Lugano headed the second for the hosts in the 58th minute. - Reuters

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