Alves secures 2-2 draw for Brazil against Paraguay (Roundup)

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Asuncion, March 30 (IANS) Defender Dani Alves struck deep into second-half injury time as Brazil earned a barely deserved 2-2 draw with Paraguay in their World Cup football qualifier.

Dario Lezcano put the hosts ahead on the stroke of halftime here on Tuesday and Edgar Benitez sent the home fans into a frenzy when he doubled the lead just after the restart, reports Xinhua.

But Ricardo Oliveira restored hope for Brazil with a 79th-minute goal before Alves ran onto a Willian pass and fired in the equaliser.

The result at the Defensores del Chaco stadium left Brazil sixth in the South American zone qualifying standings with nine points from six matches, above Paraguay on goal difference.

“We didn’t play well and when the quality isn’t there you have to show personality and determination, and that’s what we did,” Alves said after the match.

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The FC Barcelona full-back added that Brazil were far from satisfied with their current form.

“We can’t be happy but we are working as hard as possible. Our objective is to qualify (for the 2018 World Cup in Russia) as quickly as we can.”

Earlier on Tuesday, a second-half strike from Edinson Cavani gave Uruguay a 1-0 victory over Peru and lifted them to the top of the South American zone standings.

Cavani drilled an unstoppable shot past goalkeeper Pedro Gallese after Luis Suarez set him up with a superb one-touch pass.

It was Cavani’s third goal from four matches this campaign as Uruguay usurped Ecuador at the top of the table with 13 points.

In Cordoba, Argentina secured their third straight win of the qualifiers with a 2-0 victory of Bolivia.

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Gabriel Mercado netted early and Lionel Messi doubled the hosts’ lead from the penalty spot.

Arturo Vidal and Mauricio Pinilla each bagged braces as Chile beat Venezuela 4-1 in Barinas. Romulo Otero was on target for the hosts.

And in Barranquilla, Carlos Bacca scored either side of halftime as Colombia defeated Ecuador 3-1.

Sebastian Perez was also on the scoresheet for the hosts before Michael Arroyo pegged a goal back for Ecuador with a late free-kick.

The top four teams at the end of the South American zone’s two-year qualifying campaign will earn an automatic place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The fifth-ranked team will advance to the playoffs.

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