Despite there being plenty of positives to take away for new coach Fernando Batista, Argentina under-20s’ Sudamericana campaign began with frustration as Paraguay managed to hold on for a 1-1 draw in Curicó.
La Albiceleste dominated for large parts but couldn’t build on Maxi Romero’s first half header allowing Marcelino Ñamandú’s fine free-kick against the run of play to nick a point.
However, for all the young group’s unfamiliarity with a number of the starting eleven and with coach Batista it was a controlled display for the large part. Romero provided the focal point to the attack and showed flashes of the quality that was so evident while at Vélez Sarsfield, Julián Alvarez was a probing threat and Manuel Insaurralde drove forward from midfield in support.
Alvarez had already gone close with a chip that drifted marginally over the crossbar when Romero broke the deadlock on the half hour mark. Full-back Facundo Mura got down the right and delivered a superb cross to the back post where the powerful PSV number nine rose to head past Diego Huesca.
When Nehuén Pérez surged forward from defence and went close to adding a second almost immediately after the question seemed to be how many Argentina would lead by. But those thoughts proved premature as a cheap free-kick on the stroke of half time allowed Ñamandú to bend the ball over the wall and beyond Manuel Roffo in goal.
The goal allowed Paraguay to retreat in numbers and while Argentina’s superiority after the break was clear, Batista’s side couldn’t find a way through the organised defence.
A late surge saw an Alvarez header cleared off the line and substitute Adolfo Gaich drew a wonderful stop down low to Huesca’s left but Paraguay survived.
Argentina will feel it was two points dropped but there is no time to dwell as Ecuador are up next on Tuesday evening.