Cyprus Mail

Late goal rescues Brazil in 2-2 thriller in Paraguay, Messi scores again for Argentina

Daniel Alves (2nd L) of Brazil celebrates his goal

Dani Alves scored in injury time as Brazil fought back from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw with Paraguay in a World Cup qualifier in Asuncion on Tuesday.

Alves showed a nice piece of close control inside the box before curling the ball into the corner two minutes into stoppage time to rescue the visitors after Paraguay had tried to sit back and defend a 2-1 lead from early in the second half.

“That is the spirit of the team,” Alves told reporters. “As I told my team mates, for us to win here we needed not just quality but also fight and attitude and we had that today.”

The draw saw Brazil fall to sixth place on nine points in the 10-team South American qualifying group, four behind leaders Uruguay and Ecuador.

The top four teams qualify automatically for Russia in 2018 with the fifth-placed team going into an intercontinental playoff.

Paraguay, also on nine points, went ahead after 39 minutes when Dario Lezcano got on the end of a cross from Edgar Benitez and while he hit the ball into the ground, it bounced up to deceive goalkeeper Alisson and defenders on the line.

Brazil coach Dunga introduced Hulk in place of midfielder Fernandinho after the break in a bid to get back on level terms but Paraguay doubled their lead three minutes into the second hand.

Benitez collected a pass on the edge of the box and calmly slotted the ball past Alisson, while Alves stopped to appeal for offside.

Brazil’s Gil had a goal disallowed for climbing after 62 minutes but they eventually got the goal their second half dominance deserved with 12 minutes remaining.

Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar could not hold Hulk’s 25-yard drive and Ricardo Oliveira fired the rebound home.

In the day’s other games, Uruguay moved top on 13 points after defeating Peru 1-0 at home. Ecuador lost their first game in the competition, going down 3-1 in Colombia, to fall behind Uruguay on goal difference.

Lionel Messi scored his 50th international goal to help Argentina beat Bolivia 2-0 in a 2018 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

The win put Argentina third in the South American group with 11 points from six matches, two points behind joint leaders Ecuador and Uruguay.

Ecuador suffered their first loss in the group, going down 3-1 in Colombia, while Uruguay scored a 1-0 home win over Peru.

Argentina defender Gabriel Mercado, who scored the winner in Thursday’s 2-1 away victory over Chile, opened the scoring in the 21st minute against Bolivia.

Argentina were awarded a penalty in the 29th minute after Ronald Eguino fouled midfielder Ever Banega, and Messi made no mistake from the spot to net his 50th goal for Argentina, putting him within six of Gabriel Batistuta’s record.

“This (campaign) is very long and what’s important is that we won and remain on course,” Messi told TyC Sports. “I’m happy with goal number 50 but more because we won and this helps to keep growing.”

Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said it had been crucial to get the two wins.

“It was fundamental to get the six points,” he told TyC Sports of the two wins. “I think we played a serious match and won well.”

Argentina could have gone ahead after 10 seconds with a quick attack down the left from the opening kickoff but Angel Di Maria’s shot was blocked by goalkeeper Carlos Lampe and Banega hit the bar with the rebound.

Di Maria limped off after half an hour and was replaced by Angel Correa.

Other World Cup qualifying games:
U.S vs Guatemala 4-0
Panama vs Haiti 1-0
Costa Rica vs Jamaica 3-0
Mexico vs Canada 2-0

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