Barrios hat-trick boosts World Cup claim

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BERLIN - Lucas Barrios boosted his World Cup chances with a hat-trick for Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, though it is unclear whether he will line-up for Argentina or Paraguay.

Barrios took his tally to 18 goals in his first Bundesliga season and could catch the eye of Argentina coach Diego Maradona who is never shy of trying out players, having already selected more than 100 during his 18 months in charge.

The 25-year-old though is more likely to turn out for Paraguay, the country of his mother's birth, after they obtained nationality for him this month.

Barrios, known as the 'Panther', opened the scoring for Borussia in the 27th minute when he stole in at the back post to head in Nuri Sahin's free-kick.

Although Nuremberg equalised, he put Borussia back in front when he raced on to Sahin's pass and outfoxed Nuremberg goalkeeper Raphael Schaefer.

Barrios then secured a 3-2 win when he was quickest to react after Schaefer saved Sahin's shot.

If he gets a call-up from Paraguay he will have taken the scenic route to the World Cup.

Barrios had an unremarkable start to his career, playing for second division clubs in Argentina followed by unfashionable Chilean side Temuco and little-known Buenos Aires outfit Tiro Federal.

VIRTUAL ANONYMITY

By the time he reached Chilean club Cobreloa in 2006 he seemed destined to join the ranks of Argentine journeymen who spend their careers in the leagues of the smaller South American nations and endure virtual anonymity at home.

Instead Barrios began knocking in goals at a prolific rate, first for Cobreloa - a team based in the mining town of Calama in the Atacama desert - and then, following an unhappy stint with Mexican club Atlas, at the more glamorous Colo Colo in Santiago.

He took a considerable pay cut as Atlas agreed to sell him to Colo Colo but the decision paid off as he scored 37 goals in 38 games in the 2008 season to attract the interest of European clubs.

Barrios was eventually signed by Borussia and although he quickly started bagging more goals he was repeatedly overlooked by Maradona, who already has Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Diego Milito to pick from.

However, the story took a new twist this month when he obtained Paraguayan nationality, entirely on the initiative of the country's football association.

"I had no idea ... I'm a bit surprised and at the same time feel proud if what's happening comes true," said Barrios, who plays alongside Paraguay forward Nelson Haedo Valdez at his club.

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