International friendly wrap: Paraguay, Venezuela triumph

Paraguay and Venezuela both warmed up for the 2011 Copa America with victories in friendlies on Saturday.The two South American nations are part of a tricky Group B at the tournament – beginning on July 1 – with reigning champions Brazil and Ecuador ensuring the battle for quarter-final places in Argentina will be tough.

Paraguay’s strikers fired them to a 2-0 win over Romania at the Defensores del Chaco Stadium in Asuncion, in a game that also doubled as a farewell match for former captain Roberto Acuna.

Hercules forward Nelson Valdez put Paraguay in front with a low shot across Romania goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon after just two minutes.

Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz completed the scoreline when he nodded in Miguel Samudio’s cross in the 28th minute.

Acuna, 39, chalked up his 100th cap for Paraguay in a starting cameo, before his substitution on eight minutes.

Paraguay will take on Chile on June 23 in their final friendly before starting their Copa America campaign against Ecuador on July 3.

Venezuela begin the tournament against title-holders Brazil the same day, and they will be brimming with confidence after clinching a 3-0 win over Mexico’s under-23 side in their final hit-out.

Diminutive midfielder Alejandro Guerra handed Venezuela the lead at Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium after 13 minutes, with Deportivo Anzoategui team-mate Daniel Arismendi doubling their lead in the 66th minute.

Defender Oswaldo Vizcarrondo completed a special match for Anzoategui’s national team representatives with a 90th-minute strike.