Sat, Jul 10, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Brazil, Paraguay win nailbiters

ENDGAME Brazil, without any of the players that helped win the 2002 World Cup, defeated Chile in injury time, while Paraguay outshot Costa Rica in the 86th minute

AP , AREQUIPA, PERU

Costa Rica's Walter Centeno, right, falls while being challenged by Paraguay's Julio Dos Santos in the second half of their first-round Copa America match in Arequipa, Peru, on Thursday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Brazil and Paraguay scored in the waning moments of their opening Group C matches to each win 1-0 at the Copa America on Thursday.

Luis Fabiano headed in an injury-time corner from Alex for Brazil to overcome Chile, and earlier replacement striker Julio dos Santos converted an 86th-minute penalty in Paraguay's victory against Costa Rica.

"I was waiting for balls the entire game, it finally happened at the end," Fabiano said.

Chile had a golden chance to go ahead in the first half when striker Sebastian Gonzalez scored from the penalty spot in the 24th, but his goal was disallowed by Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez because teammates allegedly entered the box before the kick.

Gonzalez sent his second shot high over the crossbar.

Midfielder Edu's sliding tackle against Rodrigo Valenzuela prompted the penalty call.

Brazil outshot Chile 14-12 in the thin air at Universidad Nacional San Agustin Stadium, nearly 2,390m above sea level.

It was the first time coach Carlos Alberto Parreira put Brazil's new lineup to test. Without any of the 2002 World Cup champions, Brazil earned a 14th victory in 19 matches against Chile in Copa history. They were two of the four original Copa entrants in 1916.

Parreira rested Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho Gaucho and other tired top players to use the Copa America to try out new players ahead of the World Cup qualifiers that resume in September.

Gonzalez almost scored for Chile in the 16th when he entered the penalty box unchallenged, but his left-footer was saved by Brazil 'keeper Julio Cesar. Chile striker Milovan Mirosevic also had a clear chance inside the box in the 58th, but his left-footer was deflected wide by Cesar.

Brazil had one of its best opportunities when striker Adriano beat a defender before hitting just wide after a half-hour. In the 75th, striker Ricardo Oliveira's powerful shot was stopped by Chile goalkeeper Alex Varas.

Paraguay, fielding most of its Athens Olympics squad, was outplayed in the first half and gained control only after coach Carlos Jara Saguier substituted midfielder Jorge Britez for a more attacking Santos at halftime.

Paraguay outshot Costa Rica 15-9 at Universidad Nacional San Agustin Stadium. Santos had nearly put Paraguay ahead after a neat play inside the box in the 71st, but his shot was saved by Costa Rica 'keeper Ricardo Gonzalez.

Costa Rica, playing under coach Jorge Luis Pinto for the first time, had some of the game's best scoring chances.

Striker Ronald Gomez's one-timer from near the penalty spot was saved by Paraguay 'keeper Diego Barreto in the 22nd, and four minutes later defender Leonardo Gonzalez sent a left-footer into Barreto's hands. Walter Centeno beat two defenders in the 58th then cracked a right-footer over the crossbar.

"We had a great first half," Pinto said. "We created a lot of scoring chances, it was unfortunate the ball didn't go in."

Young sensation Nelson Haedo Valdez was Paraguay's only threat up front before Santos entered. Valdez had a chance in the 19th after a nifty move just outside the box, but his right-footer sailed wide. The 20-year-old Valdez, one of the country's most promising players, passed a fitness test just before the match after hurting a leg muscle in practice.

In the next Group C matches tomorrow, it's Paraguay-Chile, and Costa Rica-Brazil.

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