Ecuador pulled off a shock 1-0 win over world champions Brazil on
Wednesday, ending their opponents' unbeaten run in the South American
World Cup qualifying competition.
Mexican-based midfielder Edison Mendez struck the winner with a low
drive from the edge of the penalty area in the 77th minute on a wet
afternoon at the Atahualpa stadium.
Brazil began the day top of the 10-nation group with 20 points from 10
games, one point ahead of Argentina who were at home to Venezuela later
on Wednesday. Ecuador moved on to 16 points.
The world champions, whose players arrived in Ecuador from Europe less
than 48 horus before kickoff, suffered from a combination of fatigue and
the high altitude of Quito at 2,800 metres above sea level.
But they still had the better of the game until Mendez struck to give
Ecuador a repeat of their historic win over Brazil in the 2002 World Cup
qualifiers at the same venue.
The visitors could have enjoyed a halftime lead if Ronaldo and Kaka had
been on the same wavelength.
Kaka wasted an excellent chance in the eighth minute when he failed to
spot Ronaldo in a good position.
Three minutes later, Ronaldo broke clear on the left and shot across the
face of the goal with Kaka waiting unmarked in the penalty area.
Another chance went begging went Kaka shot straight at goalkeeper Edwin
Villafuerte instead of crossing to Ronaldo, who gesticulated angrily.
Kaka also sidefooted wide from Cafu's low cross and shot into the
side-netting after combining with Ronaldinho.
Agustin Delgado had Ecuador's best first-half effort with a close-range
header which was brilliantly stopped by Dida after Mendez crossed from
Brazil continued to dominate after the break and Ronaldinho had a shot
tipped onto the crossbar from Villafuerte after his own free kick went
into the wall and rebounded straight to him.
Villafuerte turned away a Kleberson drive and Kaka was also close.
But, as Ecuador began to create more chances, Renato nearly turned a
Salas cross into his own net, Dida saving his blushes, and Delgado
headed over with the goal at his mercy.
The winner came when Delgado, with his back to goal, played the ball out
to Mendez whose firm right-foot shot appeared to take a deflection onto
its way into the net.
Ronaldo completed a poor performance by side-footing wide from close
range with three minutes to play.