Football: Home ground holds the key for Ecuador

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The Independent Online
ALEX AGUINAGA scored a fine goal two minutes from time to give Ecuador, the host nation, a 2-1 win over Uruguay in the Copa America in Quito on Tuesday.

Ecuador, who finished first in Group A with a maximum six points, will stay in Quito to meet the best third-placed team from the three first-round groups in the quarter-finals on Saturday. Second-placed Uruguay travel to Guayaquil to play against the Group C winners, Argentina or Colombia.

Raul Aviles opened the scoring for Ecuador with a 27th- minute header from a cross by Eduardo Hurtado, but another header provided an equaliser for Uruguay in the 65th minute, with a defender, Fernando Kanapkis, on target. Aguinaga's winner was a well-placed shot from a low centre by a subsitute, Maximo Tenorio.

It was only Ecuador's third victory over eight-times Copa America winners Uruguay in 15 meetings. Also in Group A, Venezuela came from three goals down with 25 minutes remaining to draw 3-3 with the United States and finish third in the group with two points, one more than the Americans.

Brazil, suffering the indignity of lying bottom of Group C, hope to avoid the even bigger humiliation of first-round elimination when they face Paraguay, the group leaders, in Cuenca tonight.

The Brazilians, whose match is the last first-round fixture, will go on to the field knowing whether they need to win to qualify for the quarter-finals, or whether a draw will be enough. Group B is so tight that Paraguay could finish bottom if they lose to Brazil and Peru and Chile draw in tonight's first match.

Carlos Alberto Parreira, Brazil's coach who has been under fire since his team lost 3-2 to Chile on Monday, drops his goalkeeper, Carlos, and brings in Zetti of Sao Paulo.