La Serena (Chile), June 21 (IANS) Paraguay and Uruguay played out a 1-1 draw in Copa America at Estadio La Portada that ultimately suited the needs of both sides.
Uruguay required at least a point to confirm their presence in the quarter-finals, while Paraguay – who were already guaranteed of their place in the knock-out stages – ensured they finished above their Group B opponents with the result on Saturday.
It was Jose María Gimemez who put Uruguay ahead just before the half-hour mark, the Atletico Madrid centre-back getting up well to forcefully head home a right-wing corner. But Paraguay responded in kind a minute before half-time, Lucas Barrios shaking off the attentions of Gimenez to power Edgar Benitez’s delivery into the roof of the net with an emphatic header of his own.
Uruguay created the better chances in the second period, Edinson Cavani seeing a sharp volley well saved and substitute Christian Stuani missing a couple of very presentable opportunities.
But Paraguay held on for a share of the spoils, although there was some concern for coach Ramon Diaz who saw both midfielder Nestor Ortigoza and striker Barrios forced off with injuries.
The result also means that Jamaica have been eliminated from the tournament with even a win against Argentina now not sufficient to lift them above Uruguay.
Paraguay’s opponents will depend on both the outcome of Argentina’s match with the Reggae Boyz later on Saturday and the make-up of Group C, which currently sees all four sides level on points after two games each.Amid a scrappy and keenly-contested opening, clear-cut chances were few and far between until Bruno Valdez failed to convert a Nelson Valdez knock-down from inside the six-yard box.
Despite failing to take advantage of the game’s first opening, Paraguay nonetheless gained momentum.
Gimenez was required to clear when Nestor Ortigoza did well to find Nelson Valdez before the Atletico Madrid defender showed his quality at the other end as Uruguay edged ahead.
The centre-back rose highest to power home Carlos Sanchez’s corner past Villar in the Paraguay goal 29 minutes in.
Gimenez’s centre-back partner Sebastian Coates threatened to double the lead, almost connecting with Diego Rolan’s deep cross before the latter tested Villar from a corner.Now on top, Uruguay sought to press home their advantage before the break as Cavani prodded a shot wide, but it was Paraguay who had the final say in the first half.
Barrios outmuscled Gimenez to meet Benitez’s lofted corner and level matters with his second goal of the competition.
Cavani had the first effort of the second half – nodding Maxi Pereira’s delivery wide – as the holders piled on the pressure against a Paraguay side shorn of the impressive Ortigoza due to an apparent muscle problem.
Substitute Christian Stuani headed wide, Cavani had a volley saved and Fernando Muslera was also required to save from Derlis Gonzalez in the final moments.