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Uruguay 1 Paraguay 1: Gimenez and Barrios on target as Uruguay seal progress

Uruguay reached the Copa America knockout stages with a 1-1 draw against Group B rivals Paraguay in La Serena on Saturday.

Oscar Tabarez’s defending champions gained the point needed to ensure progression by virtue of being one of the top two third-placed teams in the competition.

And, despite missing suspended skipper Diego Godin, Uruguay did enough to claim a share of the spoils in a rematch of the 2011 final, taking the lead against the run of play having been on the back foot for much of the opening half-hour.

Jose Gimenez powered a header beat a helpless Justo Villar to give Tabarez’s men hope of progressing alongside Argentina in the top two spots.

However, Paraguay – guaranteed a quarter-final place prior to kick-off – scored from a corner of their own before half-time as Lucas Barrios sent the sides in level at the interval with a well-taken header.

Uruguay looked the likelier to claim a crucial second goal, but were forced to settle for a point that ensures a last-eight clash with hosts Chile next.

Paraguay’s opponents will depend on both the outcome of Argentina’s match with Jamaica later on Saturday and the make-up of Group C, which currently sees all four sides level on points after two games each.

Amid a scrappy and keenly-contested opening, clear-cut chances proved hard to come by until Nelson Valdez failed to convert a Bruno Valdez knock-down from inside the six-yard box.

Despite failing to take advantage of the game’s first opening, Paraguay nonetheless gained momentum.

Gimenez was required to clear when Nestor Ortigoza did well to find Nelson Valdez before the Atletico Madrid defender showed his quality at the other end as Uruguay edged ahead.

The centre-back rose highest to power home Carlos Sanchez’s corner past Villar in the Paraguay goal 29 minutes in.

Gimenez’s centre-back partner Sebastian Coates threatened to double the lead, almost connecting with Diego Rolan’s deep cross before the latter tested Villar from a corner.

Now on top, Uruguay sought to press home their advantage before the break as Edinson Cavani prodded a shot wide, but it was Paraguay who had the final say in the first half.

Barrios outmuscle Gimenez to meet Edgar Benitez’s lofted corner and level matters with his second goal of the competition.

Cavani had the first effort of the second half – nodding Maxi Pereira’s delivery wide – as the holders piled on the pressure against a Paraguay side shorn of the impressive Ortigoza due to an apparent muscle problem.

Substitute Christian Stuani headed wide, Cavani had a volley saved and Fernando Muslera was also required to save from Derlis Gonzalez in the final moments, as Uruguay now look ahead to a quarter-final meeting with unbeaten Group A winners Chile.

Sat 20 Jun, 2015
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