Paraguay 2, Brazil 2

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.

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.”

Brazil had been controlling possession when Jadson opened the

scoring. He received the ball near midfield and had time to set up

his right-footed low shot that found Villar’s right corner.

Jadson was a surprise starter after coach Mano Menezes change

Brazil’s lineup after the disappointing 0-0 draw with Venezuela in

the team’s opener. The midfielder replaced striker Robinho, who was

not effective as a playmaker in the first match.

Paraguay equalized when Brazil’s defense was caught off guard in

the 54th. Marcelo Estigarribia made a run on the left side and

found Santa Cruz free from markers inside the area. He just

one-touched the ball past Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

It was Santa Cruz’s 25th goal for Paraguay, tying Jose Cardozo’s

team record.

”It’s important personally,” Santa Cruz said. ”But it doesn’t

come at a good time. After all we did, scoring the goals, it’s sad

to give away two points like that. It hurts.”

Santa Cruz also gave the pass for Paraguay’s go-ahead goal by

substitute striker Valdez, who entered the match in the 56th. After

a mistake by defender Daniel Alves, Santa Cruz stole the ball and

gave it to Valdez near the penalty spot. His shot was initially

blocked but the ball bounced in off him.

”We made two mistakes and that’s how Paraguay got their two

goals,” midfielder Lucas Leiva said. ”We hope to get better in

the next match.”

Paraguay will play Venezuela in its last group match and it can

also advance with a win.

Lineups:

Brazil: Julio Cesar, Daniel Alves, Lucio, Thiago Silva, Andre

Santos, Lucas Leiva, Ramires (Lucas 71), Paulo Henrique Ganso,

Jadson (Elano, 46), Alexandre Pato, Neymar (Fred, 81).

Paraguay: Justo Villar, Dario Veron, Paulo Da Silva, Antolin

Alcaraz, Aureliano Torres, Enrique Vera, Cristian Riveros (Victor

Caceres, 67), Nestor Ortigoza, Marcelo Estigarribia (Osvaldo

Martinez, 78), Roque Santa Cruz, Lucas Barrios (Nelson Haedo

Valdez, 56).

Referee: Wilmar Roldan, Colombia.