SALTA, Argentina, (Reuters) – Venezuela stunned Paraguay with two goals in the dying minutes to snatch a 3-3 draw and retain their lead in Group B at the Copa America yesterday.
Jose Rondon put Venezuela ahead after five minutes when he surprised goalkeeper Justo Villar with a shot from outside the box after a pass from the left by Tomas Rincon.
Paraguay hit back just past the half hour when a high ball into the box came back off goalkeeper Renny Vega’s post and was played into the middle where the defence failed to clear and centre back Antolin Alcaraz fired home.
Striker Lucas Barrios put the Paraguayans ahead in the 63rd minute when Nelson Haedo Valdez’s shot from the left was parried by the diving Vega and the striker turned in the rebound.
Paraguay opened a two-goal lead four minutes from time when midfielder Cristian Riveros sent a glancing header inside the near post from a free kick from the right.
Venezuela then staged a stunning comeback when striker Nicolas Fedor pulled one back in the final minute and three minutes into added time Grenddy Perozo equalised with a diving header at a corner.
Venezuela, with seven points from their three matches, have already secured a place in the South American tournament’s quarter-finals, but await the result of Brazil’s match against Ecuador in Cordoba (0045 GMT) to see whether they advance as group winners.
Top spot would give Venezuela a potentially easier passage to the semi-finals against the second of the two best third-placed teams at the conclusion of the group stage of the 12-side tournament. Finishing second would mean taking on Group C winners Chile, likely to be a more daunting prospect.