RIO De JANEIRO, June 17: Boualem Khoukhi scored 13 minutes from time as Asian champions Qatar hit back from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw with Paraguay at the Copa America on Sunday.
An Oscar Cardozo penalty and a stunning Denis Gonzalez strike gave the South Americans a 2-0 lead in Rio de Janeiro but goals from Almoez Ali and Khoukhi in the final quarter snatched a share of the Group B spoils for the tournament debutants.
It left the sides two points behind Group B leaders Colombia, who opened their account with a 2-0 win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina on Saturday.
Tournament invitees Qatar made a disastrous start with a defensive mix up in the first minute causing panic in their own area.
The Asian champions survived but Paraguay kept the pressure on and a couple of minutes later had won a penalty for handball after a Bruno Valdez header struck Portuguese-born full-back Pedro Miguel’s arm.
Cardozo hammered the resulting spot kick straight down the middle of the goal to give Paraguay a fourth-minute lead.
Qatar should have equalized on 16 minutes but incredibly two players missed an open goal.
Left-back Hassan Abdelkarim flashed an inviting center across the six yard box where Sudanese-born Ali and Hasan Khalid Al Haydos both somehow contrived to completely miss the ball from just a couple of yards out.
Qatar were neat and tidy in possession but initially lacked the cutting edge and ruthlessness that Paraguay showed.
The South Americans threatened to double their lead but Fabian Balbuena headed over and Hernan Perez forced a smart save from goalkeeper Saad AlSheeb.
Qatar had another great chance to equalize after Al Haydas’s beautiful chipped pass found Abdulaziz Hatem six yards out at an angle, but he blasted a volley straight into goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez’s chest.
Paraguay looked to have doubled their lead on 51 minutes when Cardozo turned home a Miguel Almiron cross, but VAR adjudged Gonzalez to have been offside in the build-up.
Five minutes later, though, Gonzalez himself scored the second with a screamer from 25 yards into the top corner. (AFP)
Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani score as Uruguay crush 10-man Ecuador
BELO HORIZONTE, June 17: Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani were on target as Uruguay thumped 10-man Ecuador 4-0 in their opening Group C match at the Copa America on Sunday.
Nicolas Lodeiro opened the scoring after just six minutes before Ecuador full-back Jose Quintero was dismissed for a flailing arm.
With a numerical advantage, Uruguay ran riot at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte as Cavani and Suarez netted before the break. The rout was completed 12 minutes from time with an Arturo Mina own goal.
It was the ideal beginning for Uruguay in a tough Group C alongside champions Chile and guests Japan, who meet on Monday in Sao Paulo.
Uruguay were off to a dream start.
Suarez crossed from the right and Lodeiro proved the coolest customer in the Mineirao stadium as he beat one defender with his chest control, flicked the ball over another and then hit a crisp, low volley into the bottom far corner.
Uruguay were rampant and had the ball in the net soon afterwards only for Cavani to be given offside in the build-up. (AFP)