Cyprus Mail

Paraguay salvage last-gasp 2-2 draw against Argentina

Paraguay's Lucas Barrios scores against Argentina

Paraguay’s Lucas Barrios scored in the 90th minute to give his side a dramatic 2-2 draw against Argentina in the Copa America on Saturday.

The Argentines looked to be cruising to victory thanks to first-half goals from Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi from the penalty spot.

However, striker Nelson Haedo Valdez pulled a goal back for the Paraguayans on the hour with a cracking long-range shot before second-half substitute Barrios earned his side a point with a fierce drive in the final minute.

“A good Paraguayan side never gives up and we proved that again today,” Haedo Valdez said. “Even if we’re not as good as they are as individual players, as a team we’re better.

“In the first half we couldn’t string two passes together but in the second we knew we had nothing to lose and we grew in confidence. This is like a victory for us.”

Argentina’s early dominance was such that the game looked to be over as a contest by the break. They enjoyed 75 percent of first-half possession and had seven shots on goal without reply.

Aguero put them ahead in the 29th minute, sprinting on to an underhit backpass from defender Miguel Samudio and rounding the goalkeeper before stroking the ball into the empty net.

Minutes later, Samudio’s night went from bad to worse when he was harshly judged to have pulled down Angel di Maria in the box. Messi tucked away the resulting penalty for his 47th goal for his country.

But the Paraguayans looked like a different side in the second half, and after Haedo Valdez scored their first they poured forward in search of an equaliser.

With time running out, Nestor Ortigoza lobbed a freekick into the box, defender Paulo da Silva nodded it down and Barrios slammed the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net to level the scoreline.

Argentina face defending champions Uruguay in their next match in La Serena on Tuesday while Paraguay face Jamaica in Antofagasta on the same day.

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