Match Report: Paraguay 2-0 Slovakia
Paraguay have all but secured their passage to the last 16 team for the first time since 2002 after a convincing 2-0 win against Slovakia in Bloemfontein.
Enrique Vera opened his account for the tournament in the 26th minute, whilst Cristian Riveros sealed it late on.
The White and Red dominated for large parts of this encounter, peppering the Slovakian goal with an impressive forward three of Lucas Barrios, Nelson Valdez and Roque Santa Cruz.
The Manchester City front man could have opened the scoring after just two minutes, his shot deflecting off Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel and being pushed away by Jan Mucha, as Paraguay showed signs of freedom in comparison to their attritional, defensive performance against Italy.
Paulo Da Silva just missed out on a header in the 18th minute and seconds later Riveros drove a shot into the body of Mucha. The midfielder, who recently signed for Steve Bruce at Sunderland, impressed throughout showing creativity and solidity in the centre of the park.
It seemed only a matter of time before the team who ranked 31st in the world would open up the Slovaks. It was a beautiful ball through by Barrios that created the chance for Vera to curl home with the outside of his boot.
Paraguay were happy to settle in and sit back after the goal, whilst still being threatening going forward, as Slovakia had to find a goal. Vladimir Weiss was particularly impressive, the Manchester City midfielder happy to take on his full-back when the oppurtunity presented itself.
“The Fighting Jondas” started the second 45 minutes as they did the first. However their crosses failed to beat the first man as Robert Vittek was starved of supply.
Then Paraguay turned the screw, Vera heading inches wide after Santa Cruz put in a pin-point cross for the 31 year old.
Inevitably though the winner came. Da Silva heading down a free kick and leaving the ball for Riveros as the 27 year old who placed the ball into the corner of the net.
Slovakia aren’t out but they need a heroic display against Italy on Thursday whilst Paraguay need just a draw to go into a potential tie against Holland in the last 16.