Paraguay learnt again this evening the harsh lesson that one mistake can mean curtains in knock-out football after suffering a 6-0 defeat in their quarter-final with Mexico this evening.
In what was viewed beforehand as one of the most evenly poised quarter-finals their talented squad was undone by an early mistake by one of their weak links.
First choice ‘keeper Villar was out through injury and in in his place came Bobadilla, who endured a torrid season at Boca Juniors, losing his place mid-season after several poor performances.
And he saved his most disastrous error for early in his last game of the season, charging out in the just the second minute to bring down Nery Castillo as the Mexican striker was about to pounce on a stray back pass.
It was a straight red and penalty, tucked away by Castillo, and Bobadilla left his team a mountain to climb. Surely he would have been better staying on his feet. Even had Mexico scored, Paraguay and its classy attack which had caught the eye during the group stages would have been left with 11 players and 88 minutes to catch up.
Instead they chased the game in tropical heat leaving spaces that Mexico were quick to exploit adding two more in the first half and three late on in the second after a brave but vain rearguard action by Paraguay.
The early dismissal also denied Mexico their rightful share of praise as they again made a mockery of their poor Gold Cup performance with another slick display and they will now look forward to their semi-final against either Argentina or Peru, who kick off shortly.
As well as the penalty Castillo grabbed a second goal before half time chesting down and lashing in a shot after Torrado scored Mexico’s second. As Paraguay tired towards the game’s end Arce, Blanco (from a penalty) and Omar Bravo added three more to round off a far more tranquil win than the Mexicans could have hoped for or imagined beforehand.
For the Guaranis there is nothing now but ‘what-ifs’. But they leave Venezuela with the knowledge that if they can keep their starting 11 on the field they will be one of the favourites for the World Cup qualifying campaign that kicks off later this year.