CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – Venezuela provided a major shock in South American World Cup qualifying on Tuesday, beating continental heavyweight Argentina 1-0.
Fernando Amorebieta of Spanish club Athletic Bilbao headed in a corner in the 61st minute, directing the ball just beyond the reach of Argentina goalkeeper Mariano Andujar.
Venezuela, which is regarded as a longshot to qualify for the World Cup, held on for a deserved victory.
Venezuela played a strong first half, repeatedly getting past a disorganized Argentina defense. But Andujar made several key saves, including a deflection of a shot by Argentina's Lionel Messi in the 16th.
Venezuela's top striker Juan Arango came close to scoring in the 42nd with a powerful free kick that Andujar saved with the tips of his fingers.
''This was not a lucky game, not a fortunate game, this was a deserved victory,'' Venezuela coach Cesar Farias said.
Argentina's new coach Alejandro Sabella agreed that the hosts gradually got on top.
''In the first half hour Argentina was better,'' Sabella said. ''We had chances in the first 20 minutes. After that, Venezuela began to get better - particularly in the last 10 minutes of the first half. In the second half they were better than we were.''
Venezuela: Renny Vega, Roberto Rosales, Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, Fernando Amorebieta, Gabriel Cichero, Franklin Lucena, Tomas Rincon, Cesar Gonzalez (Julio Alvarez, 83), Juan Arango, Nicolas Fedor (Alejandro Moreno, 89) Jose Salomon Rondon (Frank Feltscher, 77).
Argentina: Mariano Andujar, Pablo Zabaleta (Ever Banega, 65), Nicolas Burdisso, Martin Demichelis, Marcos Rojo, Javier Mascherano, Nicolas Otamendi, Jose Sosa (Rodrigo Palacio, 75), Angel Di Maria (Javier Pastore, 83), Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain.