Copa América - Venezuela stun Paraguay

Thu, 14 Jul 01:12:00 2011

Venezuela scored two stoppage-time goals to draw 3-3 with Paraguay in a night of high drama in the Copa America in Salta.

Copa América - Venezuela stun Paraguay

Both sides qualify for the quarter-finals, with Paraguay making it through as one of the best third-placed teams - by two goals ahead of Costa Rica - and Venezuela finishing second following Brazil's win over Ecuador in Cordoba later in the day. Venezuela were already through before their match.

Venezuela took a shock lead through Salomon Rondon inside five minutes, but the sides were level at half-time after Antolin Alcaraz scored a scrappy equaliser for Paraguay.

Paraguay dominated the second half and goals from Lucas Barrios and Cristian Riveros appeared to have sealed the win.

But a stirring late fightback saw Venezuela claw their way back into the game through Miku's 89th-minute strike before the match reached a remarkable climax when Grenddy Perozo stooped low to flick home a thrilling stoppage time equaliser.

In a game that started at breakneck speed, it appeared likely that Paraguay would make their early dominance pay.

But the Paraguay fans were left stunned - not for the first time in the evening - when Venezuela drew first blood.

Tomas Rincon hurried Nestor Ortigoza into surrendering possession deep inside the Paraguay half before the midfielder released Rondon, who instinctively struck the ball past Justo Villar from the edge of the box.

It was a finish of the highest quality by Rondon, who was a handful for a creaking Paraguay defence throughout the first half.

But Paraguay levelled when a set-piece caused Venezuela problems at the back and, following a manic scramble in front of goal, Alcaraz swung his left foot to make it 1-1 in the 32nd minute.

Paraguay stepped it up a gear in the second half and it was no surprise when Barrios, Parguay's best player on the night, steered Nelson Valdez's shot in with his chest.

Paraguay appeared to be out of sight when Riveros stole a yard at the near post to flick in Valdez's free-kick from the right to make it 3-1 with five minutes to play.

But that was to be the start of a stunning Venezuelan comeback.

Rondon, who had gone missing for much of the second half, laid the ball off to Miku, who was waiting in space on the far side, before firing inside the far post to make it an uncomfortable finish for Paraguay.

While that goal restored some pride for Venezuela, it seemed to be little more than a consolation.

But when they won a corner deep into stoppage time, the goalkeeper Renny Vega not only went forward but flicked the ball into the path of Perozo, who stooped low to flick the ball past Villar, cuing Venezuelan ecstasy.

Michael Da Silva / Eurosport

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