Copa America 2011: Venezuela Made Incredible Comeback To Draw 3-3 With Paraguay
Playing their last match of the group stage in the Copa America 2011, Venezuela took on Paraguay at Salta on Wednesday, where an exciting football match was played out with a nail biting finish which culminated with a 3-3 draw.
Paraguay was leading 3-1 in the 86th minute when Cristian Riveros headed in from a corner kick after Lucas Barrios made it 2-1 minutes earlier. Paraguay seems to have finished the match there before Venezuela came back with a goal in the 90th minute through Nicolas Fedor, which seems to be a mere consolation.
The shock however came in the injury time when Venezuela goalkeeper Vega left his post to help his teammates score the equalizer. He jumped high among several defenders and his own teammates and redirected the ball toward the net. Perozo came running in and easily headed it past Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar.
“This is a team that works hard, has put in lots of hours, played lots of games and is asking for respect,” Venezuela coach Cesar Farias said.
“We can’t explain this,” Paraguay striker Lucas Barrios said of Venezuela’s late comeback. “In five minutes, they scored two goals. We leave with a sour taste in our mouth.”
With Venezuela already through to the Quarters, all the pressure was on Paraguay. The draw however earned them a Quarter final berth by virtue of the second best third place team, eliminating Costa Rica who was still in contention till the match ended.
Surprise group B toppers Venezuela drew the first blood as early as in the 4th minute when Jose Solomon Rondon’s powerful half volley strike from the 25 yards beat Justo Villar at his near post, giving his team a shock lead.
Paraguay scored the next three with Antonin Alcaraz netting in the first one from a set piece in the first half. With the match tied 1-1 at halftime, Paraguay appeared to have all the momentum. They kept up that momentum in the second half, when Barrios got a goal on his own before Cristian Riveros scored what should have been the clincher in the 86th minute.
Paraguay’s attack was disjointed and was weakened when leading striker Roque Santa Cruz was replaced by Nelson Haedo Valdez in the 42nd because of injury. Santa Cruz had scored against Brazil to become Paraguay’s all-time leading scorer with 25 goals, equal with Jose Cardozo.
But just the way they squandered their lead against Brazil in the dying minutes of the game, Paraguay here defended very badly at the end, allowing Venezuela to score twice in the last 5 minutes to end the match in a draw.