Paraguay stun Argentina

Paraguay stun Argentina

Second-half fightback cancels out first-half goals from Aguero and Messi

By (AFP)

Published: Mon 15 Jun 2015, 2:42 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:52 PM

Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero fails in his attempt to stop a goal-bound shot from Paraguay’s Nelson Haedo Valdez (unseen). — AP

Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero fails in his attempt to stop a goal-bound shot from Paraguay’s Nelson Haedo Valdez (unseen). — AP

La Serena: Argentina’s dreams of a first major title in 22 years were given a reality check on Saturday as Paraguay came from behind to snatch a last-gasp 2-2 draw in a Copa America classic.

English Premier league star Sergio Aguero and captain Lionel Messi looked to have put Argentina on the road to a routine victory in Group B after firing the tournament favourites into a 2-0 first-half lead.

But a long-range strike from Nelson Valdez hauled Paraguay back into the contest before Argentine-born forward Lucas Barrios grabbed a dramatic 90th-minute equaliser.

The stunning comeback left Argentina in shock and could complicate their route through the knockout rounds in Chile.

“It is a sin,” to give away an equaliser in the final minute, Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said afterwards, lambasting his team’s “neglect.”

Paraguay goal hero Barrios was jubilant after his team’s heroics.

“This group is so tough that getting a draw in the last minute against Argentina is like a victory,” said Barrios, who plays for Montpellier in France.

Paraguay’s other goalscorer, Valdez, paid tribute to the spirit shown by his teammates.

“Individually we are less than Argentina, but as a team we are better than them,” he said. “We needed a slap in the face at half-time.”

Argentina, runners-up in the World Cup final last year, are aiming to win their first major tournament since victory in the 1993 Copa America.

They now face a crucial second match on Tuesday against holders Uruguay, who struggled to impress in a lacklustre 1-0 win over Caribbean minnows Jamaica earlier Saturday.

Uruguay, the defending champions, badly missed their suspended striker Luis Suarez, who is still serving a ban for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.

La Celeste captain Diego Godin demanded improvement on Saturday after a solitary goal from Cristian Rodriguez saved their blushes against the Reggae Boyz.

“It’s a good result to start with, now we need to correct some mistakes,” Godin told Chilean television.

“It’s very important to win the first game in the Copa America, as it is in any big tournament,” the Atletico Madrid defender added. “We have to go game by game, but we will have to improve and keep working hard.”

Uruguay barely created a chance against Jamaica, one of two teams from the North America, Central America and Caribbean zone (CONCACAF) invited to take part in the Copa America, along with Mexico.

Uruguay finally broke the deadlock seven minutes after the break with a cleverly worked set-piece routine.

Boca Juniors midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro floated a free-kick from wide on the left for defender Jose Maria Gimenez, who lost his marker to head back into the area for Rodriguez, on loan with Brazilian side Gremio from Atletico Madrid, to finish.

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