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Jul 9, 2011

Super-sub Fred rescues Brazil

Brazil striker Fred came off the bench to score a last-gasp equaliser and earn his side a 2-2 draw in their Copa America Group B clash with Paraguay on Saturday.

Defending champions Brazil trailed 2-1 after second-half goals from Roque Santa Cruz (54) and Nelson Haedo Valdez (66) overhauled Jadson's opener and seemed headed for defeat until Fred scored in the 89th minute at Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes.

Paraguay had the better of the opening exchanges with Blackburn striker Santa Cruz having the first chance in the second minute from Lucas Barrios' assist, although the shot went over the crossbar.

But it was Brazil who went ahead six minutes before the interval when Jadson's strike from distance beat Paraguay goalkeeper Justo Villar.

Brazil coach Mano Menezes then replaced Jadson with Elano at the start of the second half as the Selecao looked to ramp up the pressure on their opponents. Instead, Paraguay equalised after a great run by Marcelo Estigarribia was finished by Santa Cruz.

Fans hoping to see Valdez introduced to the action had their wish soon after when the Hercules forward came on in place of Barrios. And he made his mark when a clearance from Lucio hit Valdez in the chest and rebounded into the back of the net.

With nine minutes remaining, Menezes decided to replace youngster Neymar with Fluminense striker Fred in a bid to get something from the game. And the former Lyon player repaid the faith with an equaliser a minute before time, turning in a neat flick from Paulo-Henrique Ganso.

The result leaves Paraguay and Brazil with two points each after two matches.

In the day's other game, Venezuela put themselves in charge of Group B at the Copa America with an impressive 1-0 win over Ecuador.

Cesar Gonzalez scored the only goal of the game just after the hour mark, leaving La Vinotinto at the head of the group with four points. Brazil and Paraguay trail in their wake after their draw, with Ecuador bottom.

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