World Cup quarterfinalist Paraguay was held to a 0-0 draw by Ecuador on Sunday in the opening match for each team at the Copa America.
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Paraguay had most of the scoring chances but failed to break through in an end-to-end Group B match that was exciting but lacked finishing.
Earlier Sunday, Brazil and Venezuela drew 0-0 in the other Group B match in the South American championship. Group B resumes Saturday with Paraguay playing Brazil and Ecuador facing Venezuela.
”It is difficult to begin this championship, and nowadays in South America no team is less than any other,” Paraguay forward Nelson Haedo Valdez said. He said the smaller teams are now ready to play with South America’s two giants, Brazil and Argentina.
”Today and yesterday we saw Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela at the same level, and this will be very important.”
Ecuador, led by Cristian Benitez, had a few chances, most of them generated through long balls and counterattacks. But Paraguay was more consistent throughout and always seemed more likely to score.
Ecuador keeper Marcelo Elizaga kept his side in the match with key saves against Edgar Barreto and Roque Santa Cruz. He was also lucky when a second-half shot by Marcelo Estigarribia went just across the front of the goal mouth.
”We probably should have won, but that’s football,” Valdez said. ”Everything has begun so evenly, we will have to see what happens.”