TOULOUSE, France (AP) _ Celso Ayala headed Paraguay's first World Cup '98 goal after only 51 seconds Wednesday but Wilson Oruma hit back for Nigeria 10 minutes later as the two teams walked off at half time level at 1-1.

Ayala's header was the fastest World Cup goal since Bryan Robson's 27-second strike for England against France in Bilbao, Spain, in 1982.

It was the perfect start for a Paraguay team that started out second in Group D behind the already-qualified Nigerians and hoped to stay there and join them in round two.

After enduring 180 minutes of tedious, goal-less soccer against Bulgaria and Spain, Paraguay needed less than one minute to hit the target against Nigeria.

Francisco Arce swung over a free kick from the right and, with the Nigerian defense stationary, Ayala jumped unchallenged to beat goalkeeper Peter Rufai's attempted punch and head into an unguarded net.

The goal sparked Nigeria's talented strikeforce into action and the Africans equalized in the 11th minute.

Nwankwo Kanu slipped an elegant pass through to overlapping winger Tijani Babangida and the Ajax forward cut inside, was felled by a Paraguayan defender, but still found the unmarked Oruma 13 meters (yards) from goal. Oruma, who plays for French club Lens, side-footed home.

The Nigerians didn't ease off and Paraguay's star goalkeeper, Jose Luis Chilavert, was kept busy, saving acrobatically from Sunday Oliseh's shot, Taribo West's header and Racheed Yekini's shot all in the space of six minutes.


Nigeria_Peter Rufai; Augustine Eguavoen, Ben Iroha, Uche Okafor, Taribo West; Tijani Babangida, Garba Lawal, Sunday Oliseh, Wilson Oruma; Nwankwo Kanu, Racheed Yekini.

Paraguay_Jose Luis Chilavert, Francisco Arce, Celso Ayala, Denis Caniza, Carlos Gamarra, Pedro Sarabia; Miguel Benitez, Julio Cesar Enciso, Carlos Paredes; Hugo Brizuela, Jose Cardozo.

Referee_Pirom Un-Prasert, Thailand.