QUITO - South American group leaders Paraguay scored an injury-time equaliser to salvage a 1-1 draw away to Ecuador in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday. Substitute Edgar Benitez scored in the second minute of injury-time after the visitors had been reduced to 10 men. Ecuador's Cristian Noboa came off the substitutes' bench to score for the home side the second game running. Paraguay, who have 24 points from 12 games, remained well on course for a fourth successive World Cup appearance after a tough match at the Atahualpa at 2,800 metres above sea level. Ecuador have 14 points and are still in touch with the leading pack, although their chances have been greatly reduced after their second successive home draw. The first half ended in an ugly melee with riot police on the point of entering the field. Ecuador broke the deadlock when Noboa, who scored an 89th minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Brazil on Sunday, headed in from a corner in the 64th minute, two minutes after coming on. Paraguay were close to an equaliser in the 81st minute when Benitez hit the post but their chances seemed to have evaporated when defender Paulo da Silva was harshly sent off for a foul on Cristian Benitez. Ecuador's Edison Mendez hit the crossbar from the resulting free kick but Paraguay rode their luck and Edgar Benitez grabbed the equaliser after the Ecuador defence failed to clear Salvador Cabanas' cross.
2 April 2009
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