Venezuela into quarter-finals
Late goals seal place in last eight
Last Updated: 14/07/11 7:54am
Rondon: On target
Venezuela claimed a 3-3 draw with Paraguay which saw both teams progress into the last eight of the Copa America.
Two late goals saw Venezuela claim a point against Paraguay in a dramatic Group B encounter in Salta.
Salomon Rondon had given surprise pool leaders Venezuela a fifth-minute lead but Paraguay looked to be cruising into the last eight when goals from Antolin Alcaraz, Lucas Barrios and Cristian Riveros put them 3-1 up.
Venezuela never gave up, though, despite knowing their quarter-final place was already assured. Substitute Miku reduced the deficit in the 89th minute and then Grenddy Perozo headed home a stoppage-time equaliser.
Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino had viewed the match as a must-win encounter for his side but they could hardly have got off to a worse start at the Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena.
Malaga forward Rondon took full advantage after Nestor Ortigoza was caught in possession, rifling a 20-yard shot past Justo Villar with less than five minutes on the clock.
Teenager Alexander Gonzalez should have doubled his side's advantage on the half-hour mark when he was played in on the right-hand side of the penalty area, but skewed his shot horribly wide.
Three minutes later, Paraguay were level. Barrios' looping header from Aureliano Torres' free-kick was somehow kept out by a combination of post and goalkeeper Renny Vega, but the Venezuela defence were unable to clear the danger and Alcaraz lashed home a scrappy equaliser.
Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz was replaced by Haedo Valdez three minutes before the break, and the substitute made a key contribution to his side's second goal after 62 minutes.
Vega made a smart save after Valdez had done well to get his shot away following a corner, but Barrios was in the right place to divert the ball into the net.
Paraguay looked to have put the result beyond doubt when Riveros flicked a neat header past Vega at the near post in the 84th minute.
However, Miku's deflected strike a minute from time gave Venezuela hope and, from the final attack of the game, goalkeeper Vega went up for a corner and provided the assist for Perozo to head in the equaliser.