Paraguay have kept alive their hopes of a place in the knockout stages of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup with a 2-1 win over Costa Rica at Montreal's Olympic Stadium. An 88th-minute penalty from captain and player of the match Jennifer Mora settled in the South Americans' favor a game that had looked to be heading inexorably towards a draw.
Having lost to New Zealand in their opening match, Paraguay knew that a positive result was crucial - and they made the perfect start towards gaining just that. Only four minutes were on the clock, in fact, when Silvana Romero fired Los Albirrojas in front, finding space in the box before drilling the ball coolly through the legs of the advancing Noelia Bermudez.
But if the Paraguayans saw that as a sign of things to come, they were very much mistaken. Instead, it was Costa Rica who responded best to that early goal, and who went on to dominate the first half.
As always, Las Ticas were inspired in everything they did by the irrepressible Melissa Herrera, and it was their speedy No7 who provided the Central Americans' first effort, just clearing the crossbar from 25 yards. Herrera then turned provider, threading a pass through for Katheryn Arroyo. The way was clear to run in on goal but the Costa Rica No11 took a poor first touch and panicked, blazing her shot high over the crossbar.
Herrera's pace and trickery continued to cause problems though and on 29 minutes she laid on her team's equalizer, bustling her way to the byline and delivering a low cross that Michelle Montero slid in to convert from four yards.
Paraguay could have had no complaints at losing their lead, although they enjoyed a decent spell either side of half-time, with captain Jennifer Mora blasting a 30-yard free-kick against the junction of post and crossbar and Soledad Garay just off target with an equally powerful 25-yard effort.
The South Americans also did a better job of subduing Herrera after the restart, and it was to Gloriana Villalobos that Costa Rica's best chance fell. But while the midfielder pounced eagerly on a poor headed clearance by Sady Salinas, she could only volley wide from 16 yards with the keeper out of position and the goal beckoning.
That miss became all the more costly with two minutes remaining when Ticas keeper Noerelia Bermudez slid out rashly on Maribel Portillo, taking the substitute down to concede a penalty. Mora assumed responsibility and she dispatched her strike in some style, sending the keeper the wrong way with a perfect penalty high into the top-left corner.
Paraguay, having denied France early qualification with that late goal, will now face Les Bleuettes in their final Group D match, while Costa Rica must beat New Zealand to maintain their slim hopes.
Live Your Goals player: Jennifer Mora (PAR)