The Fluminense man hit home with minutes left, to rescue a point for a Brazil team that once more failed to impress in the Copa AmericaCORDOBA- A strike from Fred just minutes before the final whistle rescued a point for Brazil against a Paraguay side which had seemingly secured a famous victory. Jadson raised the hopes of the five-time World Cup winners with a goal before halftime, but strikes from Roque Santa Cruz and Nelso Haedo Valdez fired the Guarani to the brink of victory over the lackluster favorites.
"We leave with a bitter taste in our mouths, but that is football," Paraguay's Lucas Barrios said of the game. "We were losing by one and you guys were thinking we'd lose 3, 4-0. It did not go that way."
Paraguay came flying out of the blocks on a gloriously warm winter's afternoon in Cordoba, and Newell's Old Boys winger Marcelo Estigarribia forced a save from Julio Cesar seconds in with a speculative shot from distance. Brazil meanwhile began how it finished against Venezuela, attacking with little purpose or urgency and relying on individual forays from Neymar down the left.
The Guarani should have taken the lead after just two minutes. Lucas Barrios did excellently to hold up the ball and thread through to Roque Santa Cruz, but his strike partner blazed over when only Cesar stood between him and an opener. Paraguay continued to work hard, pressuring the Selecao all over the pitch and provoking some awful mistakes in defense and midfield.
Jadson was the surprise inclusion minutes before kickoff in place of Robinho, and the Shakhtar playmaker was key in Brazil's first foray on goal. A neat exchange between him and Ganso opened up the defense for Alexandre Pato's benefit, but the Milan man chose to try and dribble round Justo Villar and was denied well by the goalkeeper.
After a bright start the game started to lose intensity, and a section of frustrated Brazil fans pleaded for the inclusion of Kaka and Lucas to give life to a side looking chronically short of ideas in the final third. Paraguay meanwhile retreated back into its own half, although Estigarribia and the hulking Nestor Ortigoza impressed in the middle - the San Lorenzo man demonstrating his strength with several huge challenges.
Just before halftime, however, Brazil found the key to take the initiative. With 38 minutes on the clock, Jadson found himself with space on the edge of the area after some patient, one-touch buildup. The 27-year-old fired home precisely to the left of Villar to record his first-ever international strike, sending a rejuvenated Selecao into the break 1-0 to the good.
"I was very happy to play for the Selecao and scoring my first goal," the midfielder said. "We were sad to not get the victory, but the result was important for the Selecao".
It would be Jadson's last contribution in the match, as he was sacrificed by Mano Menezes at half time in favor of Elano and a stronger midfield. They struggled to rediscover their rhythm after the break, however, and scrappy fouls started to characterize a messy start to the second period. Paraguay was on top, and there was no surprise when it leveled.
"Mano talked to me and explained he was taking me out because of the yellow card," Jadson said of being taken out. "There was a play right before the goal where I risked being sent-off. It was his option and I understand."
Huge spaces could be found in the middle of the field, and the Guarani took full advantage as they streaked down the left. The excellent Estigarribia reached the byline and raked the ball across goal, and Santa Cruz was there to atone for his earlier miss by calmly slotting past Cesar.
A spell of dominance for Gerardo Martino's team followed, but with 20 minutes to go Neymar spurned a glorious opportunity to take the lead. The Santos man found himself all alone against Villar, but like Pato before him tried to be too clever. The repercussions were almost instant.
Paraguay broke immediately on the counter, and with Dani Alves nowhere to be seen the ball once more found its way to Nelson Haedo Valdez in the middle. The Hercules man was denied by Cesar, but the ball rebounded kindly and at the second time of asking he managed to turn it in with his head. The Estadio Mario Kempes exploded with shouts from the Paraguayan fans, who comfortably outnumbered the Brazil contingent in the terraces.
Menezes threw on young Lucas Moura in an effort to kick-start his lackluster team, but there was no way through a resilient rival defense. With just minutes left on the clock, however, substitute Fred picked up Ganso's ball and drove in from the edge of the box, breaking the hearts of the Paraguay support and saving a point for Brazil.
"I think that in the second half we showed another face, trying to beat our markers and create more chances," Paraguay's Marcelon Estigarribia said after the match. "But as we said after the last game, sometimes the results just don't go your way. It's a credit to [Brazil] that they could score in the last minute, but also a problem with our concentration."
Brazil remains level with the Paraguayans on two points in Group B, and Venezuela or Ecuador could go top if either manages to record a win in Salta.