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BUENOS AIRES, June 15 (Reuters) - Argentina substitute Rodrigo Palacio scored in the fourth minute of stoppage-time to salvage a 1-1 home draw with Ecuador in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
Ecuador had been poised to hand Argentina their first home defeat in a qualifier since 1993 after going ahead with a brilliant strike from Patricio Urrutia in the 69th minute.
The draw left Argentina with 10 points from five games in the South American group and Ecuador with four.
The visitors surrounded referee Rene Ortube at the end, apparently angry at the amount of time added on.
“We were lucky to draw the match with the last move of the game,” Argentina coach Alfio Basile told reporters.
“We played well in our last games and today we didn’t. There’s not much to add.”
Ecuador coach Sixto Vizuete said there was too much stoppage time.
“I’m not satisfied, I’m hurt,” he said.
“In the first half, there were two stoppages and the referee added on two minutes. In the second half, there were absolutely none and he added four minutes.”
Argentina, who visit arch-rivals Brazil in another qualifier on Wednesday, were generally unimpressive.
A poor first half failed to produce any clearcut chances.
With Juan Roman Riquelme having a quiet game in midfield, Argentina failed to get the ball to strikers Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero.
Their best move ended with Messi just failing to make contact with a low cross from Maxi Rodriguez.
Riquelme wasted two free kicks early in the second half before Ecuador had a penalty appeal turned down when Joffre Guerron burst into the area and appeared to be pushed over by Gabriel Heinze.
Guerron and Carlos Tenorio were a constant problem for the Argentine defence and both were involved in the a superbly-worked goal in the 69th minute.
The pair combined for Tenorio to backheel the ball into the path of Urrutia, who rifled in a 20-metre shot off the crossbar.
Argentina replied with a Julio Cruz header which flew just wide before Aguero forced a good save from goalkeeper Jose Cevallos.
Ecuador appeared to have done enough to win but lost concentration in the closing seconds.
A long goal kick by Roberto Abbondanzieri found its way past two defenders and landed perfectly for Palacio to fire past Cevallos, who got a hand to the ball but could not stop it bouncing into the goal.
Writing by Brian Homewood in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Ed Osmond
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