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2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan"
Injury time goals keep Ecuador,
Paraguay on course to Asia

© Reuters Limited

Photo by PILAR OLIVARES, Reuters
Ecuador, playing their first game since coach Hernan Dario Gomez survived a shooting incident last month, scored an injury time winner to beat Peru 2-1 away on Saturday, 3 June and remain on course for a first World Cup appearance.

Striker Agustin Delgado broke clear to score with his eighth goal of the South American World Cup qualifying group and keep Ecuador firmly anchored in third place behind Argentina and Paraguay, who beat Chile later on Saturday, also with an injury time winner. Earlier on, their captain and goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert had missed a penalty.

Peru's defeat buried their remaining hopes of reaching Japan and South Korea, leaving them seventh in the standings with five games left.

It was a remarkable performance by Ecuador who fell behind after two minutes, were missing captain Alex Aguinaga through injury and had Edison Mendez sent off in the second half.

Their win came at the end of a traumatic month in which their coach, Gomez, a Colombian, was attacked by the group of men and shot in the lobby of a five-star hotel in Guayaquil. He survived with only a minor leg injury and broken nose, went back to his homeland and was then persuaded to stay on despite at one stage saying he was afraid to return to Ecuador.

Peru, buoyed by last month's draw in Brazil, fielded three strikers and got the perfect start when Werder Bremen striker Pizarro scored with a well-placed shot from the edge of the area in the second minute.

Ecuador kept their calm and hit back after twelve minutes. Ulises de la Cruz broke down the right and crossed, the ball eluded a posse of players in the middle and fell to Edison Mendez at the far post where he fired a low shot into the goal.

Ecuador missed two excellent chances to go ahead before halftime, when Ivan Kaviedes and then Agustion Delgado shot weakly at goalkeeper Miguel Miranda from point-blank range.

Peru took control after the break and, not for the first time in the competition, missed a flurry of chances with Andres Mendoza hitting the crossbar and Juan Pajuelo seeing a header brilliantly cleared off the line by Edwin Tenorio.

Mendez was sent off for kicking Martin Hidalgo's ankle. Then, with Peru pouring forward, de la Cruz chipped the ball over their back line to Delgado, who rounded Miranda and scored into the empty net.

Paraguay scored an injury time winner to beat Chile in their World Cup qualifier on Saturday despite their captain and goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert missing a penalty earlier in the game.

In the game's last attack, midfielder Carlos Paredes rose above the Chilean defence to head in a cross from Alfredo Amarilla to elevate Paraguay back into second in the South American World Cup qualifying group. Chile, who are effectively out of the running for a World Cup place, did not even have time to kick off.

Playing their first match since striker Ivan Zamorano announced his international retirement in April, Chile appeared to be on course to ending Paraguay's 100 percent home record in the competition until Amarilla's late intervention.

Chilavert, who regularly takes free kicks and penalties at club and international level, saw his kick brilliantly saved by his opposite number Sergio Vargas in the 61st minute of a generally poor match. Vargas dived to his left and saved a low shot with his feet.

Paraguay defender Celso Ayala was sent off ten minutes from time for elbowing an opponent in the face.

Paraguay have 26 points from 13 games, one point more than Ecuador. The top four teams qualify for Japan and South Korea next year. The fifth-placed team play off against the winners of the Oceania region for another place.

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