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 May 18, 2002 | 1645 IST

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Santa Cruz stars as
Paraguay beat Sweden

Oliver Grassman

Goals from Roque Santa Cruz and Carlos Paredes gave a defensive Paraguay a 2-1 win over an injury-hit Sweden in a World Cup warm-up on Friday.

Boding ill for the Swedes, who play Argentina, England and Nigeria in World Cup's group F, Santa Cruz proved too fast and agile for the Scandinavian side's ageing central defenders Patrik Andersson and Johan Mjallby.

"We played brilliantly for 45 minutes in the first half," Paraguay coach Cesare Maldini said. "Sweden are a strong team but we made them look bad."

Bayern Munich striker Santa Cruz sprinted away from Mjallby to head home a Jorge Campos left-wing cross from close range in the 17th minute.

Santacruz forced Sweden goalkeeper Magnus Hedman into a fine save with another header in the 30th minute.

Nine minutes later Santacruz was denied by a one-handed save from Hedman.

Paredes doubled the lead just before half time when his free kick eluded Hedman.

Sweden, who were without injured midfielders Fredrik Ljungberg and Anders Svensson, as well as defender Olof Mellberg, pulled one back early in the second half when midfielder Andreas Andersson's left-foot shot deflected off defender Francisco Arce and surprised Paraguay goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert.

Sweden's coach Lars Lagerback praised Paraguay's discipline and regretted his players' "unfortunate mistakes" in the first half.

"We made it much too difficult for ourselves and we played at a much too slow pace, allowing them to get nine men back there," he said.

"Our second half was okay and if we're to find something positive to take with us from this match it is our attitude and fighting spirit in the second half."

Paraguay play South Africa, Spain and Slovenia in the opening phase of the World Cup.

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