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Unsung Venezuela overcome Ecuador in friendly

© Reuters 2002

CARACAS, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Venezuela, who are trying to cast off their image as the ugly ducklings of South American football, continued their improvement with another win on Sunday, beating Ecuador 2-0 in a friendly.

A first half header by defender Jose Rey and a 78th minute goal by substitute Wilfredo Moreno gave Venezuela their second win in a row after the beat Bolivia by the same score in August.

They also maintained an 18-month unbeaten home record under coach Richard Paez, who has transformed the fortunes of a team used to suffering heavy defeats wherever they play.

The team's improvement has caught the imagination of the Venezuelan public, who still prefer baseball to football, and an enthusiatic 28,000 crowd packed the Olimpico stadium - a remarkably high turnout for a friendly in Caracas.

Venezuela dominated the match despite being without key foreign-based midfielders Juan Arango and Rafael Mea Vitali.

Ecuador, playing their second match since making their first FIFA World Cup" appearance in June, were also without foreign-based players including England-based Ulises de la Cruz and Agustin Delgado and Spanish-based Ivan Kaviedes.

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