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Paraguay draw 1-1 in Argentina to retain lead in table

SoccerNews in World Cup 7 Sep 2008

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Paraguay's 1-1 draw against 10-man, Olympic champions Argentina in Buenos Aires on Saturday was enough to retain their lead at the top of the South American World Cup qualifying table.

Argentina, fresh from their exploits in Beijing where they beat Brazil on the way to gold, were confounded in their attempts to get victory and move to the top of the 10-nation group after this seventh round of the 18-match series.

Home fans in the Monumental stadium were subjected to the worst possible start after just 12 minutes when a mix-up caused defender Gabriel Heinze to put the ball past keeper Robert Abbondanzieri and into his own net.

In the same play, Abbondanzieri was injured and received five stitches in his knee and stand-in Juan Pablo Carrizo replaced him for the rest of the match.

Argentina's Carlos Tevez, of Manchester United, was sent off on 30 minutes for his second yellow card to further make things difficult for the home side.

Sergio Aguero, who had replaced Angel Di Maria in the 45th minute, equalised for Argentina on the hour. Good work from Barcelona striker Lionel Messi to get past four Paraguay defenders, before releasing a long pass, set up Aguero to find the net.

Paraguay now lead the group with 14 points from seven matches, two points ahead of Argentina on 12.

Argentina coach Alfio Basile said afterwards: “Everything bad that could have happened did. We had the worst luck and the sending off of Tevez knocked us back. It was a strange match but I was not happy with the draw because I believe we deserved to win.”

Further matches to be played on Saturday area Ecuador versus Bolivia, Colombia against Uruguay and then Peru at home to Venezuela.

Sunday's game sees Brazil playing in Chile. Brazil's failure to capture gold at the Olympics, and worse, losing to Argentina on the way, has put coach Dunga under yet more pressure.

No coach's job is harder than that of Brazil, a record five-times World Cup winners and who are the only team to have played in every World Cup finals.

“We have to win. I know that,” said Dunga. “The Chile game will be difficult but we must look for the three points.”

Brazil, who if they stayed in fifth place would have to playoff with a Concacaf side for a place at the South Africa finals in 2010, have only won two of their six games to date.

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