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Argentina scrape into World Cup finals

sports Updated: Oct 15, 2009 11:10 IST

Argentina scraped into the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Uruguay as Diego Maradona finally celebrated mission accomplished after a stumbling, lacklustre qualifying campaign.

The two-time champions needed a goal by substitute Mario Bolatti six minutes from time to earn the three points and secure the fourth and final qualifying spot from South America.

Brazil, Chile and Paraguay had already made sure of their places in the finals.

Uruguay finished in fifth and now face a play-off against Costa Rica, who finished fourth in the CONCACAF region behind USA, Mexico and Honduras, to decide their World Cup fate.

In a poor match with few opportunities on Wednesday, the crucial moment came when Uruguay were reduced to 10 men when Martin Caceras was red-carded for a foul on Jonas Gutierrez.

From the ensuing free-kick, Juan Sebastian Veron had a shot charged down, but Bolatti, on the field for just four minutes after replacing Gonzalo Higuain, reacted quickest to the loose ball to beat Nestor Muslera in the Uruguayan goal.

Maradona, who had used over 70 players since taking over a year ago, opted to leave Carlos Tevez on the bench alongside Martin Palermo, who grabbed the last-minute goal which saw off Peru on Saturday.