The Netherlands were in danger of an early exit from the FIFA World Youth Championship after sharing a 1-1 draw with Ecuador on Thursday, while France let slip a two-goal lead as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Paraguay.

The Dutch were left in third place in group E, being staged in the north-western city of Salta, with one point from two games after Jorge Vargas scored an 85th minute equaliser to earn Ecuador a point.

Jurgan Colin had put the Netherlands ahead in the 21st minute.

Group leaders Costa Rica made sure of a place in the second round by beating Ethiopia 3-1. Winston Parks, who scored two goals in the 3-1 win over the Netherlands earlier this week, was again on target twice.

Costa Rica have a maximum of six points from two games while second-placed Ecuador have four points. Ethiopia are bottom of the group having lost both their matches.

Parks, who is emerging as one of the top players in the competition, is the joint top scorer with four goals alongside Brazil's Robert and Frenchman Djibril Cisse, who struck once in his team's 2-2 draw with Paraguay in group F.

France, 5-0 victors over Iran in their opening game, appeared to be on course to secure a spot in the next round of competition thanks to superior play and an early goal by Herve Bugnet in the 10th and another by top scorer Cisse after the break.

But Paraguay, showing the tenacious qualities often associated with their football, hit back.

Facing elimination, Paraguay pressed their attack and equalised with two unanswered goals through Walter Fretes in the 53rd minute and Jose Devaca with 18 minutes to go.

Group leaders Ghana booked their place in the second round by beating Iran 1-0 with an early goal by Derek Boateng, his second of the competition.

Iran played much better than in their opening match against France and came even close to equalising near theend but were denied by the woodwork. Although the Asians proved their attacking skills, they failed to score their first goal of the tournament and faceelimination in the last group match against Paraguay.

Ghana have six points from their two games, followed by France with four, Paraguay with one and Iran with none.

The Czech Republic and Angola are level on four points at the top of group D after both won in Rosario.

The Czechs trounced Australia 3-0 with goals by Petr Musil, Tomas Jun and Michal Macek.Early pressure by the Czechs over the Young Socceroos in the first half resulted in two fine goals during a three-minute spurt. An early free kick goal after the break sealed the Oceania Champions' fate.

African Champions Angola exhibited some of their potential taking an early lead off a shot from Mendonca. Japan managed to even the score with a penalty from Koji Yamase in the 61st minute but substitute Rascas broke the stalemate for Angola in the 81st defeating the runners-up in Nigeria two years ago 2-1.