Brazil struggle to another draw

ASUNCION (Paraguay) • Dani Alves struck deep into second-half injury time, as Brazil earned a barely deserved 2-2 draw with Paraguay in their World Cup football qualifier on Tuesday.

Dario Lezcano put the hosts ahead on the stroke of half-time. Edgar Benitez sent the home fans into a frenzy when he doubled the lead after the re-start.

But Ricardo Oliveira restored hope for Brazil with a 79th-minute goal before Alves ran onto a Willian pass and fired in the equaliser.

The draw at the Defensores del Chaco stadium left Brazil sixth in the South American zone qualifying standings with nine points from six matches, above Paraguay on goal difference.

"We didn't play well and when the quality isn't there you have to show personality and determination, and that's what we did," Alves said.

The Barcelona full-back added that Brazil were far from satisfied with their current form.

"We can't be happy but we are working as hard as possible. Our objective is to qualify (for the 2018 World Cup in Russia) as quickly as we can."

The result also heaped more pressure on Brazil coach Dunga. The famously combative coach said his side, now four points behind leaders Uruguay and Ecuador, would recover and laughed off suggestions that his job was in danger.

"It's not news that the (future of the) manager of the national side is discussed," he said. "I didn't win, it's normal to be challenged."

The top four teams at the end of the South American zone's two-year qualifying campaign will earn an automatic place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The fifth-ranked team will advance to the play-offs against the Oceania group winners.

REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2016, with the headline 'Brazil struggle to another draw'. Print Edition | Subscribe