BELOHORIZONTE, Brazil (Reuters) – Japan and Ecuador were eliminated from the Copa America on Monday after their 1-1 draw gifted Paraguay a quarter-final berth as one of the two best third-placed sides.
A win for either Group C team would have guaranteed them a place in the last eight and Japan took the lead in 15 minutes when Shoya Nakajima scored from 25 meters out.
However, Angel Mena equalised 20 minutes later when he pounced on a parried shot to touch home from close range.
Ecuador were the better team in a lively second half but neither they nor the young Japanese side could get the goal that would take them through.
Japan almost snatched a last-gasp winner but it was correctly chalked off for offside.
The result means that Group C winners Uruguay, who beat Chile 1-0, will face Peru on Saturday, while Chile will take on Group B winners Colombia the day before.
Hosts Brazil play Paraguay in Porto Alegre in the first quarter-final on Thursday, and Venezuela face Argentina at the Maracana stadium in Rio on Friday.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Peter Rutherford)