Former South American champions Paraguay were held to a goalless draw by a 10 men Costa Rica in sticky conditions in a Group A match at the Citrus Bowl stadium, Orlando on Saturday in Copa America Centenario.
Costa Rica ended the game with 10 men after defender Kendall Waston was sent off in injury time for a dangerous challenge on Nelson Valdez.
The result leaves Colombia who beat the United States in Friday’s opener, alone at the top of the group with three points.
The intense heat and humidity, with the temperature at kick-off around 92 33 degrees celsius was blamed by both teams for what was, in the end, a disappointing spectacle in front of a disappointingly small crowd of 14,334.
Paraguay coach Ramon Diaz said it was “crazy” to have scheduled the match to be played at 5 pm local (Eastern) time.
Costa Rica forward Bryan Ruiz agreed saying: “The heat definitely effected the game, it could have been a much better game in different conditions.”
Given those conditions, both sides were wary over over-exerting themselves but it was Paraguay who got an early grip on possession.
Paraguay striker Jorge Benitez showed some excellent footwork to create space inside the box in the ninth minute and his low cross was almost turned into his own net by Costa Rica defender Celso Borges.
Paraguay went close again when Paulo Da Silva flashed a header wide after a well-timed run to meet a corner from Oscar Romero.
Romero entertained the crowd with some delightful touches, clever dribbling and intelligent passing. Paraguay were unable to turn their possession and creativity into real chances.
Costa Rica, quarter-finalists in the World Cup two years ago, played a more direct style, looking to find forwards Joel Campbell and Ruiz quickly, but they were unable to find much in the way of fluidity to their play.
Ruiz was a threat with a flashing header but it went straight into the arms of Paraguay’s veteran goalkeeper Justo Villar.
At the other end, Benitez won possession inside the Costa Rica half and showed great pace but his right foot shot flashed wide of the post.
The two sides struggled to pick up their rhythm again in the second half and most of the time both teams tried to kkep the possession but failed to test the goal keepers. In the 71st minute that there was a real threat on goal when Paraguay defender Gustavo Gomez had a header from a Derlis Gonzalez corner well saved by Costa Rica keeper Patrick Pemberton.
With three minutes left, Costa Rica substitute Christian Bolanos caused Villar problems with a low shot from over 25 yards out which bounced awkwardly in front of the 38-year-old keeper who pushed it wide.