Italy, Paraguay draw a blank
© AFP

Italy and Paraguay missed the chance to join Egypt at the top of Group A after emerging with honours even from a tense 0-0 stalemate at Cairo International Stadium. Paraguay will perhaps feel hard done by at not taking all three points from a game they enjoyed marginally the better of, but poor finishing ultimately cost them the chance to move level with the Pharaohs.

Italy actually began the game on the offensive and caused panic inside the opening few minutes when an ambitious long-range free-kick from Andrea Mazzarani flashed just wide of the right-hand post.

However, this promising start came to nothing and, soon, it was Paraguay who were in the ascendancy. Indeed, Azzurrini goalkeeper Giuseppe Fiorillo twice needed to keep the South Americans at bay as the first half wore on, most notably when he fisted over from a fierce, first-time volley from Lorenzo Melgarejo after 18 minutes' play.

With Italy lacking in imagination, their best chances continued to come from set pieces and, just two minutes into the second half, Fabio Sciacca fired in a free-kick that was heading for the top right-hand corner before Joel Silva scrambled across to tip behind.

However, in a disappointing game of precious few chances, Paraguay came closest to snatching the points. Federico Santander spurned the best of their second half opportunities, firing into the side-netting after his pace had taken him clear in the right channel.

Melgarejo also proved wasteful, blazing over with nine minutes remaining after finding himself unmarked at the back post. The consequence of such profligacy was a draw that leaves the race to qualify from Group A wide open.