Heavy rain in Mendoza coupled with the heavy legs of a group of teenagers that have played a lot of competitive football in a short space of time meant this game was hardly a classic. In the first half both sides found it hard to create chances and throughout the match these two physical sides resorted to breaking up moves by unfair means, in total there were 39 fouls.
For the eighth time in this tournament the albirrojita’s goal was from a set piece, a Jorge Rojas corner was met at the near post by Cecilio Dominguez who flicked the ball towards the back post where Junior Alonso was on hand to turn in his second goal of the tournament. It put Paraguay in the driving seat with just 30 mins to go and they were helped when opposing midfielder Sebastian Cristoforo was sent off for leading with the arm.
Drama ensued in the final minutes when Cecilio Dominguez handballed a header inside the 18-yard-box and the referee pointed to the spot. Diego Rolán stepped up to take the penalty which would have levelled the match giving the Celeste the point they needed to qualify for the World Cup however he skied his attempt, Paraguayan commentators pointing to “champions luck”. On Sunday we’ll find out if the commentators are right, just a point needed versus Colombia to secure the first title since 1971, the second ever.
Paraguay XI: Diego Morel; Miller Mareco, Gustavo Gómez, Rubén Monges, Junior Alonso; Ángel Lucena, Miguel Almirón, Jorge Rojas, Rodrigo Alborno; Derlis González, Cecilio Domínguez
Match Stats (Paraguay first)
Shots on Target: 1-4
Attempts at Goal: 6-8
Yellow Cards: 2-3
Red Cards: 0-1