LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 27: Neymar of Brazil on the ball during the International friendly match between Brazil and Scotland at Emirates Stadium on March 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Copa America 2011: Brazil And Paraguay Battle To 2-2 Draw; Venezuela Earn Shock Win Over Ecuador

Brazil got a 90th minute equalizer from Fred to save a point in a thrilling match against Paraguay, but their qualification for the knockout stages is far from secured

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Venezuela Vs. Ecuador: Venezuela Earn Shock 1-0 Win

With Brazil coming up next and everyone in the group level at a point apiece, the thought coming into the day was that Ecuador would go all-out against Venezuela in order to earn three points and a decent chance of advancing to the knockout rounds. Brazil's 2-2 draw with Paraguay only made that strategy more likely - a victorious Ecuador would have a two point lead over Brazil and Paraguay with one game to go. With their opposition fairly week, it looked like Ecuador's moment to shine.

Wrong! Wrong wrong wrong. Two hours after kickoff, and it's Venezuela who've put themselves in commanding position with a deserving 1-0 win. Despite a tense finish, where Renny Vega was forced into several good saves, the victors were full value for the points, with Ecuador coming out flatter than flat while Venezuela actually tried to play football, which was nice.

Their intrepid play was rewarded with an absolutely wonderful second-half goal from Cesar Gonzalez, who surged forwards onto a loose ball more than thirty yards out and absolutely wellied a shot into the bottom left corner, with Marcelo Elizaga looking on in disbelief. Did Ecuador roar into life as a result? Of course not, although they had a couple of good chances to equalise before Walter Cordero blew for full time.

The statistics tell a stunning story - seven Venezuela corners to Ecuador's one and thirteen shots to six from a team that should have been decidedly inferior. As the game ended, Ecuador's players ambled around looking stunned while Venezuela and the fans celebrated like they'd just won the trophy. Considering their previous record - it was their first win in the tournament since 2007 - they had good reason to.


Copa America 2011, Brazil Vs. Paraguay: 90th Minute Goal Saves Brazil In Thrilling 2-2 Draw

Copa America 2011 got off to a slow start as goals were hard to come by and drama absent from many matches, but it appears as if the tournament may have found its form after Brazil and Paraguay put on a show in a 2-2 draw. The favored Brazilians drew their opening match, but were expected to come back and put away Paraguay in their second match of the tournament to get on track. After scoring the opening goal it looked like that's exactly what would happen, but Paraguay answered with two goals of their own to take the lead before Fred equalized in the 90th minute to cap off a thrilling draw.

Both teams opened the match looking to get forward and it led to an open and exciting start. Finding the final pass to create clear cut chances was a challenge on both sides, but the play in the midfield was excellent. It finally led to Jadson getting just enough space from 20 yards and ripping a low shot past Justo Villar for the match's opening tally not long before halftime.

While Brazil may have been the favorites and the pick of almost everyone to grab three points, Paraguay are not some team anyone can just roll over. A quality side that proved their worth at last summer's World Cup in advancing to the knockout stages, Paraguay were not going to be awestruck by the Brazilians and they came out flying after halftime.

Nine minutes after the break Marcelo Estigarribia broke down the left for Paraguay. Past his defender, he spotted Lucas Barrios making a run in behind the Brazil defense. His pass was too far in front of Barrios or the Brazilian defense, but rolled right into the path of Roque Santa Cruz, who was unmarked and streaking down the center. Santa Cruz had no problem sliding home the pass with his first touch and Paraguay were level.

Paraguay continued to pressure and in the 66th minute they went in front. Cristian Riveros won a ball on the left side of the box and found Santa Cruz with his back to goal 12 yards out. Santa Cruz quickly settled before finding Nelson Haedo Valdez running into the center unmarked. Valdez took the perfect pass from Santa Cruz with a heavy first touch, allowing Lucios to come across with a diving block of Valdez's shot, but the ball just deflected off of Lucio and in for the go-ahead goal.

Instead of setting up shop, Paraguay continued to play despite being up a goal and it worked. Brazil couldn't find their rhythm and looked as if they would drop all three points, but Fred saved them in the 90th minute. The ball was flicked on to him at the top of the box and he turned quickly, letting the ball bounce into his path. With defenders on both sides of him, but none in front of him, Fred had room to get a shot off and took advantage. He hit it low and hard for the key equalizer.

The draw leaves both Brazil and Paraguay on two points heading into the final match day of the group stage. Paraguay will take on Venezuela in their final contest in Salta, while Brazil will face Ecuador in Cordoba. Both matches are on July 13 and will be vital as a draw may not be enough for either team to advance to the knockout stages.

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