Football: Ecuador satisfied, Paraguay irked at Copa stalemate

SANTA FE, Argentina, July 3, 2011 (AFP) - Ecuador were more or less satisfied but Paraguay felt irked after the pair fought out a goalless stalemate in Group B of the Copa America on Sunday.

With group favourites and holders Brazil also dropping two points against minnows Venezuela the chance was there for either side to take early ownership of the group with a win in the late game.

Instead, a tight match saw neither side able to make a breakthrough in Santa Fe.

Gerardo Martino's Paraguay were favoured after having shown some impressive form in qualifiers for last year's World Cup, but their forward line of German-based Lucas Barrios and Blackburn man Roque Santa Cruz was unable to make their greater experience of the big occasion count.

"The first 20 to 25 minutes were good from Paraguay - we could have made the difference there," said Martino glumly.

"Then towards the end (of the first period) we lost our way and gave away possession too much and stopped pressing. In the second half we did have some chances and were in control," he noted.

But still the goals wouldn't come, meaning that the Brazilians can recover from their own poor finishing against the Venezuelans if they can edge out Martino's men next Saturday to get back on track.

Paraguay are now sweating on the fitness for that game of winger Edgar Barreto, who went off injured before half time.

Ecuador coach Reinaldo Rueda, in contrast said his side had played "very well" in general.

"We came right back into the game (after Paraguay's stronger start) and we are getting our confidence together.

"We had some purple patches and we are improving all the time," Rueda opined.

A win in their next outing against the Venezuelans would put Ecuador within an ace of making the second stage.

The top two in each of the three groups qualify for the quarter-finals, as do the two best-placed sides who come third.

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