Peru advances in Copa América after Suárez misses penalty
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 30, 2019 08:47 AM
Uruguay's Luis Suarez, right, walks by Peru's Paolo Guerrero, left, after failing to score during the penalty shoot-out during a Copa America quarterfinal soccer match at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Saturday, June 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press
SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Underdogs Peru advanced to the semifinals of Copa América on Saturday after a goalless draw and a penalty shootout miss from Uruguay striker Luis Suárez.
Peru's next opponent will be defending champion Chile, who eliminated Colombia also on penalties Friday night. The match will take place Wednesday at the Arena do Grêmio in Porto Alegre.
Brazil and Argentina will face off Tuesday in Belo Horizonte for the other spot in the July 7 final at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Suárez was the only player to miss from the spot and left the field in tears.
Edison Flores scored Peru's last goal in the 5-4 penalty shootout win.
Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, who was under severe criticism after Peru was routed 5-0 by Brazil a week ago, saved Suárez shot with his belly and decided the match for the Peruvians.
"He is a goalkeeper that always appears in the important moments," said Peru coach Ricardo Gareca.
Peru got through the group as one of the top two teams finishing third place. Its only win in four matches was a 3-1 against weak Bolivia.
The match in Salvador offered few opportunities for both teams and was played under rain in the entire first half. Only 21,000 fans were at the 48,000-seater Arena Fonte Nova to watch.
Uruguay, the team that has won the most Copa Américas, with 15 titles, created the best opportunities during the 90 minutes, but the goals scored by Giorgian De Arrascaeta, Edinson Cavani and Suárez were disallowed by offside.
Coach Óscar Tabárez started the match with two of his most aggressive midfielders, Federico Valverde and Giorgian de Arrascaeta, hoping to take advantage of Peru's defensive troubles during group stage. But those problems were not there anymore for the knockout stage match.
"Soccer is not about deserving. They took their penalty shots better," said Uruguayan defender Diego Godín. "Three goals disallowed. We missed the efficiency to score that goal that would have opened the match."
Coach Tabárez agreed. "Nothing was done against the rules," he said.
After winning Copa América 2011 in Argentina, Uruguay failed to get out of the group in the 2015 and the 2016 editions. The team known as the Celeste advanced to the quarterfinals after beating Chile 1-0, winning Group C and leaving the impression it could fight for the title again.
The Peruvians netted all their penalties against goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. Paolo Guerrero, Raúl Ruidíaz, Yoshimar Yotún, Luis Advíncula and Flores got it right from the spot. After Suárez missed, Cavani, Cristhian Stuani, Rodrigo Bentancur and Lucas Torreira converted their shots for Uruguay.
Peru's Gareca said his team deserved to advance because of its will power. His top goal scorer Paolo Guerrero agreed.
"We have shown that this group has the will, the blood and the courage," the striker said.
Peru could not count on injured midfielder Jefferson Farfán, one of the most important players of his squad.
The match in Salvador marked the third goal less draw in the quarterfinals of Copa América in Brazil. The only goals of this phase were scored in Argentina's 2-0 victory against Venezuela.
Players once more suffered with the poor pitch of the Arena Fonte Nova, filled with bare patches and uneven regions.
Poor fields have been a constant complaint during Copa América in Brazil.
In the Copa América semifinals there will be extra time if the matches finish in a tie. In the quarterfinals stage the decision went straight to the penalty shootouts if the teams ended level after 90 minutes.