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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 24, 2006

Paraguay recover to draw 2-2 with Norway

OSLO, May 24 (Reuters) - World Cup-bound Paraguay finally woke up in the second half of their friendly against Norway on Wednesday to leave Oslo with a 2-2 draw after showing some of the spirit that won them a place in Germany.

Norway were leading 1-0 at the break thanks to a goal by Frode Johnsen who headed home unopposed from a free kick after 21 minutes with four Paraguay defenders looking on.

The South Americans had been reduced to a handful of long balls during a tepid first half performance and apart from an effort disallowed for offside did not threaten to score.

However, Paraguay looked like a different side in the second period and within minutes captain Carlos Gamarra, in his 105th game for his country, headed the equaliser.

Nelson Heado Valdez put the visitors ahead moments later with his third international goal when he latched on to a looping through ball and unleashed a searing first'time strike.

Norway, who failed to qualify for the World Cup after losing a playoff with Czech Republic, were very competitive and Johnsen scored with another header on the hour to claim a deserved draw.

Paraguay coach Anibal Ruiz was happy with the performance and said it was good test against north European opponents.

'In South America we are not used to this strong physical football, the type that Sweden and England will play,' he said.

Paraguay have qualified for the past three World Cups and reached the last 16 in 1998 and 2002. They play Sweden, England and Trinidad & Tobago in their Group B matches next month.

Ruiz said first choice striker Roque Santa Cruz did not play because he is still recuperating after damaging his knee playing for Bayern Munich in October but he will be fit for Germany.