Paraguay 0-0 Ecuador: Stalemate In Santa Fe Leaves Group B All Square

Neither side could take advantage of Brazil being held to a 0-0 draw versus Venezuela with Paraguay in particular left to rue a host of missed chances
Paraguay and Ecuador played out an uneventful goalless draw in Santa Fe to leave all teams in Group B on one point after the opening round of Copa America fixtures.

Paraguay were the busier of the two sides, but could not find a way past the inspired Marcelo Elizaga in goal for Ecuador, as Gerardo Martino's men failed to take advantage of Brazil drawing 0-0 with Venezuela earlier in the evening.

The first chance of the game fell to Paraguay in the 12th minute when Marcelo Elizaga was forced into action. Marcelo Estigarribia sprung to life down the left wing before cutting the ball back to Edgar Barreto just inside the Ecuador box, but his powerful drive was tipped over the bar by the keeper.

Paraguay came close to finding the opening goal again on 18 minutes in a dominant spell. Lucas Barrios' ball found Nestor Ortigoza at the back post yet the midfielder's close range effort was blocked superbly by Elizaga, who was certainly the busiest player on the pitch in the first 20 minutes.

However, against the run of play, it was Ecuador who created the best opportunity of the opening period on 28 minutes. Christian Benitez dazzled spectators when he powered his way past three Paraguayan defenders. Clean through on goal. the former Birmingham City striker made the wrong decision in attempting to round Justo Villar as the goalkeeper stuck his leg out to nudge the ball away from the path of his net.

The second half started at a frenetic tempo but had to wait until the 55th minute for the first opportunity. Roque Santa Cruz's precise pass found the speedy Estigarribia in the Ecuador box, yet the winger could only drag his effort wide of the keeper's post from eight yards out.

Eight minutes later, Gerardo Martino's men created another great chance, thanks to some impressive wing-play from the lively Estigarribia. The left-sided player calmly stepped between two Ecuadorian defenders before swinging an inviting cross into the box which was met by a powerful Santa Cruz header. However, the veteran Elizaga acrobatically turned the ball around the post for a corner.

Both sides continued to push for an elusive winner, with Paraguay looking the stronger side yet the game finished scoreless. Next up for the Paraguayans is a crucial encounter versus Copa America holders Brazil, while Ecuador face Venezuela.

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