Uruguay vs Paraguay
Estadio Centenario, Montevideo
(0-0) 1-1 – Suarez; Benítez
A defensive-minded Paraguay thwarted the home side for long periods in a typically physical game between these two old rivals. Pelusso went for a 4-4-2 as planned and tried to squeeze the space out of the game, Oscar Tabarez also put four in the middle with Edison Cavani on the bench. In the first half we were treated to plenty of fouls and not much football, Paraguay looked best from Ayala’s set pieces as expected while Uruguay forced a good save from Barreto and Suarez headed over towards the end of the first 45 minutes but it wasn’t a classic.
In the second half Uruguay went to a 4-3-3 with Cavani on the pitch and began to probe more but good football was still at a premium, the albirroja were brutal in defense with captain Paulo Da Silva having a good game in his 111th appearance. Oscar Cardozo looked good until he was injured but the key change by Pelusso was to bring on Edgar Benítez for the defensive Richard Ortiz. Suddenly the game was more open and the celeste were really pressuring Paraguay’s goal, they had had a penalty appeal turned down when Riveros hauled down Cavani at a corner but now they were stringing together more attacking moves.
With nine minutes to go Luis Suarez struck with a lethal volley at the back post, it was substitute Gaston Ramirez who provided the assisit with a sweet cross from the left. By now Paraguay had brought on Jonathan Fabbro so it looked like the gamble had backfired but they were handed an equaliser from an unlikely source; Diego Lugano went to meet a long ball and inadvertently flicked the ball behind him and into the path of Pajaro, the Toluca man slipped the ball through to equalise. The final four minutes were bedlam, Paraguay had more possession as Uruguay looked shell shocked although it was Suarez who could have won it only for his shot to be smothered by Diego Barreto who capped off a fine game.
Next stop Quito – only a win will do, even that might not be enough but the spirit was on show tonight in the Centenario, Pelusso has unearthed the Paraguay of old.
Paraguay XI: Diego Barreto; Ivan Piris, Paulo Da Silva, Pablo Aguilar, Miguel Samudio; Victor Ayala, Fidencio Oviedo, Cristian Riveros, Richard Ortiz, Nelson Haedo, Oscar Cardozo
Subs: Edgar Benítez for Richard Ortiz; Luis Nery Caballero for Oscar Cardozo; Jonathan Fabbro for Nelson Haedo
By Ralph Hannah