Argentina vs Paraguay
Estadio Malvinas Argentinas
(1-0) 1-2 – Luciano Vietto; Derlis Gonzalez, Cecilio Dominguez
A tremendous second-half performance saw Paraguay score twice to overturn a one-goal deficit and beat Argentina on their own turf. It was a fantastic result that has kept alive the albirrojita’s hopes of qualifying for the final round. Victor Genes must be commended for his team selection and tactical awareness, he changed to a defensive 3-4-3 to combat Argentina’s ‘Fantastic 5’ with both Ivan Ramirez and Robert Piris da Motta playing as holding midfielders to protect their back three who didn’t have to press the ball, instead concentrated on covering balls over the top.
In the first half Paraguay were compact, organized and excellent without the ball yet they failed to keep much possession as the strikers found themselves too far from their midfield. The visitors were slightly unlucky in the manner they conceded, a hopeful shot from Luciano Vietto cannoned off the backside of Gustavo Gómez and looped into the top corner past Diego Morel.
The second half saw two key changes that allowed Paraguay to alter the course of the game, Miguel Almirón came on and was much more effective in picking his passes than Piris da Motta but also Derlis Gonzalez’s surprise entrance (we were told he was injured) unsettled the Argentinians. It wasn’t just his pace but his movement that, combined with more intelligent runs from Cecilio Dominguez, made life impossible for the albiceleste. Both goals were classic counter attacking moves, the first a pass from Almirón to Dominugez who had pulled left, he held up the ball well before releasing Bryan Montenegro ahead of him and the former West Ham forward’s cross was met at the back post by the Benfica man Gonzalez. The second goal was more direct, Almirón winning the ball in the centre circle and released Dominguez with a wonderful through ball, the Sol de América striker finished in style with the outside of his foot.
Paraguay held on for the win and now have a rest before playing Chile on Tuesday, a win in that match would all but put them through to the final round.
Paraguay XI: Diego Morel; Teodoro Paredes, Matias Perez, Gustavo Gómez; Jorge Rojas, Robert Piris da Motta, Iván Ramirez, Manuel Balbuena; Juan Villamayor, Cecilio Dominguez, Bryan Montenegro
Subs: Miguel Almirón for Robert Piris da Motta; Derlis Gonzalez for Juan Villamayor; Miller Mareco for Matias Perez
By Ralph Hannah