Argentina saved from World Cup qualifying defeat

Argentina drew Ecuador 1-1 and was spared from consecutive defeats thanks to a last-minute goal by Rodrigo Palacio in South American World Cup qualifying on Sunday.

Patricio Urrutia scored in the 69th minute for Ecuador and Palacio, fresh on the field in the 89th, saved the Argentines from embarrassment moments later before a 42,000-strong crowd at River Plate Stadium.

Ecuador manager Sixto Vizuete displayed a defensive strategy that bore fruit: Playing not to lose is just as good as playing to win.

Urrutia scored with a well-lofted ball thanks to a heel-pass from Carlos Tenorio.

Shocked into action, Argentina produced a few lukewarm attempts on goal that brought no success.

Goal-hungry Argentine fans were at last given some relief when Sergio Aguero headed a pass to Palacios for the draw.

Paraguay continues to top the standings with 13 points following Sunday’s 2-0 victory against Brazil. Argentina was second with 10 points and Ecuador eighth with 4.

Argentina plays Brazil on Wednesday and Ecuador will receive Colombia.


Lineups:

Argentina: Roberto Abbondanzieri, Nicolas Burdisso, Martin Demichelis, Gabriel Heinze, Javier Zanetti, Juan Sebastian Veron (Rodrigo Palacio, 89), Javier Mascherano (Julio Cruz, 63), Maxi Rodriguez (Fernando Gago, 45), Juan Roman Riquelme, Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero.

Ecuador: Jose Cevallos, Omar De Jesus, Ivan Hurtado, Giovanni Espinoza, Isaac Mina, Segundo Castillo, Antonio Valencia, Joffre Guerron (Ulises de la Cruz, 92), Patricio Urrutia, Walter Ayovi (Luis Bolanos, 85), and Carlos Tenorio (Christian Benitez, 88).