A ten-man Paraguay clinched a World Cup
second round place after an astonishing
comeback, their 3-1 win over Slovenia
sealed with a goal six minutes from time by
substitute Nelson Cuevas.
Paraguay's last-gasp strike -- substitute Nelson Cuevas's
second goal of the match -- was enough to
send them through on goals scored instead
of South Africa, who lost 3-2 to Spain.
Paraguay, who went one-nil down just
before the break, grabbed second place in group B behind Spain who had already qualified
before Wednesday's matches.
Cuevas got his first goals for his country on his World Cup debut to take them through
after an equaliser in the 66th minute was followed by a left-foot drive to secure
In between fellow substitute Jorge Campos crashed in their second goal on 73 minutes to
set up the thrilling finale.
Paraguay, with a draw and a defeat from their opening two games, knew they had a
mountain to climb before the start -- not only needing victory but faced with overturning
an inferior goal difference and hoping South Africa would lose against Spain.
Their task was made harder midway through the first half when Paredes, booked for a foul
on Miran Pavlin in the fourth minute, tangled with Acimovic and was dismissed. TV replays
showed Paredes's trailing hand hit the Slovenian's face.
Until then Paraguay had carried the greater threat with Jose Cardozo going close with two
Francisco Arce then forced Mladen Dabanovic to beat away his fierce drive, and the
Slovenian goalkeeper also tipped over Guido Alvarenga's effort from distance.
But Slovenia, with nothing to play for but pride after two defeats in their first ever World
Cup finals, weathered the storm. Jose Luis Chilavert turned Sebastjan Cimrotic's shot
around the post and Srecko Katanec's side then made the breakthrough in first-half injury
Acimovic was the creator and finisher, his mazy run into the box from the right ending
with a shot that thudded home from a narrow angle off the legs of Chilavert.
The same player almost doubled the lead six minutes after the break when his curling
left-foot strike beat a static Chilavert but cannoned against the crossbar.
Paraguay were handed a lifeline with 24 minutes to go when Cuevas, who had only been
on the pitch five minutes, jinked in from the right and beat Dabanovic low to his left.
Slovenia's Nastja Ceh was sent off on 81 minutes for a dangerous tackle before Campos
drilled home a second in the 73rd minute as Paraguay launched wave after wave of
attacks on the Slovenian goal, and Cuevas's second goal sealed their triumph.