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Qatar shake up Copa with thrilling comeback against Paraguay

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By Reuters
Qatar shake up Copa with thrilling comeback against Paraguay
Soccer Football - Copa America Brazil 2019 - Group B - Paraguay v Qatar - Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - June 16, 2019 Paraguay's Bruno Valdez in action with Qatar's Tarek Salman REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes   -   Copyright  RICARDO MORAES(Reuters)

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Qatar fought their way back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Paraguay in their first ever Copa America game on Sunday, proving they will be no pushovers in the tournament by pulling off a thrilling revival at a near-empty Maracana stadium.

The 2022 World Cup hosts are one of two guest teams at the South American championship along with Japan. However, their debut got off to a nightmare start when Paraguay’s Oscar Cardozo smashed in from the penalty spot in the fourth minute.

Qatar caused their opponents plenty of problems but after Cardozo had another strike ruled out after a VAR-review, the Asian Cup champions conceded again when Derlis Gonzalez scored early in the second half with a long-range rocket.

Striker Almoez Ali made amends for spurning an earlier sitter by pulling his side back into the game with a distance strike which looped into the net in the 68th minute. Nine minutes later, Boualem Khoukhi levelled with a scrappy finish.

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)