For 45 minutes it was all going smoothly for Argentina. Pablo Aimar’s side were dominating a Paraguay side they defeated 3-0 en route to lifting the South American Championships in April and with a 2-0 half time lead the Albiceleste had a foot in the World Cup quarter-final. However, a complete collapse in the second half and a rousing fight back from Paraguay resulted in Diego Duarte firing an 86th-minute winner to break Argentinian hearts.
Few could have seen it coming such was Argentina’s superiority in the first half. Exequiel Zeballos headed the opening goal climbing at the back post to connect with Luciano Vera’s hanging cross and when Matías Godoy slotted in a second just before the break a repeat of the South American Championship win looked on the cards.
Argentina needed to be wary of a Paraguayan response and when it came Los Pibes had no answer.
Quick out of the blocks Paraguay swarmed Argentina and the warning signs were clear when Rocco Ríos Novo was forced to make a point-blank save from Matías Segovia and Diego Torres hit the woodwork.
The goal wasn’t far behind. Substitute Segovia got in behind full-back Lautaro Cano and the ball eventually bobbled off the Argentina defender and over the goal-line according to VAR despite the Vélez youngster’s attempts to clear.
The momentum was with Paraguay and in the 73rd minute Torres shot past Ríos Novo on the turn.
All square in the closing stages, Paraguay could sense a famous win and four minutes from time, Diego Duarte sealed it. Holding off and twisting away from Bruno Amione the Paraguayan number nine produced a superb finish to blast the ball into the top corner and with it the Albirroja were booking their place to play the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.