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Almirón stars in Copa Ameríca draw for Paraguay

Written by Luke Vinton

Miguel Almirón was heavily involved in Paraguay's eventful 2-2 draw against Qatar in their opening Copa Ameríca Group B clash.

Almirón, who suffered a hamstring injury against Southampton back in April, played the full game on Sunday evening as La Albirroja squandered a two-goal lead at the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro.

Oscar Cardozo opened the scoring with a thunderous fourth minute penalty after Almirón's set piece found Bruno Valdez in the penalty area who nodded the ball onto the hand of Qatar's Pedro Miguel. 

Cardozo thought he had extended Paraguay's lead early in the second half after connecting with Almirón's excellent pass but, despite the goal being ruled out by VAR, Derlis Gonzalez doubled Paraguay's advantage minutes later after picking up Almirón's pass from distance before firing the ball into the right-hand corner. 

Qatar, a guest team along with Japan at the South American tournament, levelled the tie as strikes from Almoez Ali and Boualem Khoukhi secured a point in their first ever game in the competition.

Almirón could face Lionel Messi in Paraguay's next Group B fixture on Thursday (kick-off 1.30am BST) as Paraguay face Argentina in Belo Horizonte.

Elsewhere, Salomón Rondón - who featured on loan for the Magpies last term - was also involved in Copa Ameríca action as the forward played the full 90 minutes of Venezuela's goalless draw against Peru on Saturday.

Christian Atsu played the first 45 minutes of Ghana's goalless draw against South Africa as the Black Stars prepared for the upcoming African Cup of Nations finals in Egypt, which begins on Friday, 21st June.

Goalkeeper Freddie Woodman could be line to feature for England Under-21s as the Young Lions begin their European Championship campaign against France on Tuesday evening (kick-off 8pm BST) in Cesena.

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