Copa América - Copa outsiders continue to make waves

Mon, 04 Jul 07:37:00 2011

Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino praised his side's performance against Ecuador in the Copa America, saying their 0-0 Group B draw was sprinkled with some of the best football of the tournament.

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"We played the best 15 minutes so far in this Copa America and it would be unjust not to recognise that," Argentine Martino said after the match in Santa Fe.

"If (Marcelo) Elizaga was chosen as man of the match, there's a reason," he said of Ecuador's goalkeeper, who made a string of fine saves as Paraguay laid siege to his goal in the opening quarter of an hour.

Striker Roque Santa Cruz and midfielders Edgar Barreto and Nestor Ortigoza all had good chances well saved by Elizaga.

Paraguay will now face their biggest test in Brazil in Cordoba on Sunday.

The Brazilians were held 0-0 by Venezuela, whose burgundy strip has earned them the nickname Vinotinto (red wine), after being denied a penalty and seeing Alexandre Pato hit the bar.

Unhappy Brazil coach Mano Menezes, having seen Venezuela celebrate the result as if it were a victory, said his team were too predictable.

"We never managed to be quick enough to finish our moves well, we were too (wide) open," Menezes said.

"We put too many balls into the box when we didn't have a player (to feed) like that.

"We need to try to get in there with a player who gets between the (central) defenders."

Fast-improving Venezuela, the former whipping boys of South American football, hailed their first draw against Brazil since their 1967 debut in the tournament in which they have won only two matches.

"There were moments when the team had the necessary character to go in search of the (three) points and with this result we believe in our chances of reaching the second phase," said coach Cesar Farias.

The top two teams in each of the three groups, and the two best third-placed teams, qualify for the quarter-finals.

The tournament, played in extremely cold weather, has produced just three goals in four matches after hosts Argentina were held 1-1 by Bolivia and Colombia beat Costa Rica 1-0 in Group A.

World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay open Group C on Monday in San Juan followed by Chile's meeting with Peru in a double-header at the new Bicentenario stadium.

Reuters

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