LA PAZ (Reuters) - Striker Rodrigo Ramallo scored two first-half goals as Bolivia got their World Cup qualifying campaign off the ground with an exciting 4-2 home victory over Venezuela on Thursday.
The win at the Hernando Siles stadium lifted Bolivia off the bottom of South America’s qualifying standings following two defeats last month in which they failed to score.
Bolivia, who have not reached the World Cup finals since 1994, avoided equaling their worst run of 10 qualifying matches without a win set between 2005 and 2008.
Venezuela, who had managed a 1-1 draw on their previous visit to La Paz for a qualifier in June 2013, struggled with Bolivia’s pace 3,600 meters above sea level and are bottom with no points.
Ramallo opened the scoring in the 19th minute with a chip over goalkeeper Alain Baroja and four minutes later midfielder Juan Carlos Arce converted a penalty to put Venezuela in further trouble.
Mario Rondon got La Vinotinto back into the match after half an hour when deflected Tomas Rincon’s initial effort past goalkeeper Daniel Vaca into the net.
The home side, however, took a 3-1 lead into the interval after Ramallo’s second goal, a diving header in first-half stoppage time.
Bolivia went three goals up three minutes into the second half when Rudy Cardozo converted on the rebound after Baroja had parried a shot from Ramallo.
Richard Blanco pulled another goal back in the 55th and Rondon had a header ruled out for offside in the dying minutes before Venezuela had striker Luis Seijas sent off deep into stoppage time.
Reporting by Luis Ampuero in Buenos Aires; Writing by Rex Gowar; editing by Toby Davis