It was perhaps too much to hope that Salut! Sunderland‘s non-English team of choice in South Africa would hang on to an implausible lead over Italy. And so it proved, though the South Americans in red and white stripes defended well to claim a decent point …
This is an updated version of a posting that appeared during the first half …
In the first 10 minutes of Paraguay v Italy, I was vaguely aware – while doing other things such as replying to hyper-sensitive Celtic fans – of one excellent saving tackle, one superb block and a decent forward pass from our own Paulo da Silva.
“Il joue a Sunderland,” the French commentator mentioned in a quiet moment that he felt called for Motsonesque detail. “Mais il joie pas beaucoup.”
Well yes, mon ami, we were saying the same sort of thing for much of last season when the back four was struggling as da Silva languished on the bench. So tonight was a rare opportunity for Sunderland fans to see him. I was also aware of Cristiano Riveros in the first half, but rather less so.
And then, rather later but all of a sudden, Paraguay were 1-0 up, a sublime header from Alcaraz converting an enticing free-kick from Torres. Italy had been the stronger side, and so it continued as the second half began with the reigning champions having much to prove. The equaliser seemed inevitable, and it came from de Rossi in the 64th minute.
But to the immense credit of Paraguay, they did not just roll over and allow the script to proceed as written. Italy pressed, but the South Americans defended stoutly.
Pete Sixsmith put it like this:
Thought Paraguay did OK last night. Da Silva showed that he is a great tracker and a good tackler. He never gives up, but English football may not be for him. Riveros worked hard and was clearly following instructions to hang deep. It will be interesting to see what he does against less exalted opposition in the next two group games. Mensah had a great game on Sunday, but rarely moved from the centre half spot. PL football is too quick for him to do this. The appalling Tyldesley had Pantsil as captain – more London bias.
Any team that starts with two Sunderland players and plays in something close to our colours deserves out support, especially if they’re playing the last tournament’s winners. Sorry Italy, but I’d have loved you not to improve on the half time scoreline – and was delighted to see Paraguay stand in the way of an opening win for you.
Thanks to Bill Taylor for the pix from Little Italy, Toronto.