Argentina and Uruguay are widely considered to be the two South American nations that share most common traits. Yet on Thursday morning, with the dust still settling on the previous night's Batalla del Centenario (Battle of the Centenario stadium), the River Plate which separates the two countries could barely have seemed wider. takes a look at the media reaction on both shores on the back of Argentina's 1-0 victory in Montevideo, a result which sent La Albiceleste directly to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ and consigned La Celeste to a third successive qualifying play-off.

Celebrations dampened
The joy and relief that had initially swept across Argentina after the final whistle has, according to the country's main newspapers and television channels, been somewhat soured by the confrontation between coach Diego Maradona and the journalists covering Los Gauchos' patchy campaign. "Babies that don't cry don't get milk" was the headline in Diario Deportivo Olé, an oblique reference to El Pelusa's barbed comments in the post-match press conference.

La Nación, for their part, led with "Out of the nightmare and into the World Cup". The daily went on to state that "Argentina sealed their ticket to South Africa 2010 despite haphazard management characterised by internal strife and a coach who chose revenge-seeking and pettiness over self-criticism".

Argentina sealed their ticket despite haphazard management characterised by internal strife and a coach who chose revenge-seeking and pettiness over self-criticism.

La Nación newspaper after Argentina qualified for South Africa 2010

Clarín, meanwhile, chose to focus on matters on the pitch, going with the headline of "Argentina suffered, fought and earned their place at the World Cup" on their front page. Inside the publication, writers felt that Maradona's side "brought the anxiety to an end thanks to [Mario] Bolatti's goal and did just enough to seal their ticket to South Africa".

The more neutral and middle-of-the-road Página 12, led with "My Africa", while observing that "the country ground to a halt to see the game and held its breath until Bolatti's goal. Everything was put on hold. Maradona celebrated before rounding on his critics."

The long way round
Across the water, the general feeling among the Uruguayan media was one of resignation after their team was forced to go "the long way round again", in the shape of another play-off. "Born to suffer" and "We must pull together" were just a sample of the headlines adorning the front pages of the Montevideo dailies on Thursday morning.

"We have to keep suffering, we have to keep dreaming: we'll need a bit more effort to get to South Africa" was the verdict of El País, with El Observador singing from a similar hymn sheet: "If football is an allegory of life, then the Argentina defeat was another harsh reality check. Fifth spot in South America, average football and in the play-offs once more."

Finally, Últimas Noticias stayed on the same message when saying that "the suffering's not over yet, Uruguay finished fifth and must battle it out with Costa Rica", before firing off a battle cry for the fans and team: "We've still got one chance left, and it's in the Caribbean."