Brazil draws Paraguay 2-2 in Copa America

Updated: 2011-07-10 10:55


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Brazil draws Paraguay 2-2 in Copa America
Paraguay's Nelson Haedo Valdez celebrates after scoring during their match against Brazil in the first round of the Copa America soccer tournament in Cordoba, July 9, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

CORDOBA, Argentina - Substitute striker Fred scored in the 89th minute and defending champion Brazil salvaged a 2-2 draw with Paraguay in the Copa America on Saturday.

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Brazil seemed headed for defeat until Fred found the net from inside the area to equalize at Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes. The loss would have left the Brazilians in serious danger of failing to advance from the group stage of the South American championship.

The result keeps Brazil and Argentina, the region's powerhouses touted to meet in the final, winless after playing two matches each. Neither are certain to advance to the next stage in the 12-team competition, but victories in their final group matches will be enough to seem them through to the quarterfinals. Brazil will play Ecuador and Argentina will face Costa Rica.

"The fans need to be patient," Brazil coach Mano Menezes said. "We need to stay calm and focus on improving. We didn't really play below expectations."

Fred scored after a perfect one-touch pass by playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso, striking a low shot into the right corner of Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar.

"It was a good result," Fred said. "It showed us how difficult it is to play against these other teams."

A member of Brazil's 2006 World Cup team, Fred entered Saturday's match to replace young sensation Neymar, who for the second match in a row was ineffective.

Jadson gave Brazil the lead with a low shot from the top of the area in the 38th, but Paraguay came back with goals by Roque Santa Cruz in the 54th and by Nelson Haedo Valdez in the 66th after mistakes by the Brazilian defense.

"We are very upset," said Paraguay's Nestor Ortigoza. "We started well. Didn't let (Brazil) play."

The result leaves Paraguay and Brazil with two points each after two Group B matches. Venezuela has four points after beating Ecuador 1-0 later Saturday, while the Ecuadoreans remain bottom of the group with one point.

"It was important to show that we can come back," substitute midfielder Elano said. "But we need to improve and keep our calm."

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