Ralph Hannah –
Uruguay vs Peru – For the third time in quarterfinals we saw a competitive 90 minutes but no goals. Uruguay and Peru drew 0-0, following the pattern of Paraguay-Brazil and Colombia-Chile.
Uruguay vs Peru Goals: 4-5 (Penalties)
The few fans that attended the game in the Fonte Arena were witness to a penalty shootout again in Salvador, just like in 2014 when the Netherlands defeated Costa Rica. This time it was the underdogs that progressed on penalties as the Incas profited from an uncharacteristic Luis Suarez miss.
The game started scrappily with both sides trying to gain control of the middle of the pitch; neither team could really claim to be in charge in the opening period although 20-year-old Federico Valverde was showing the most composure. On 15 minutes he scooped up a loose ball and floated a cross to Luis Suárez who had found space between the centre backs, looping his header over the bar.
It was a sign of things to come as Uruguay began to dominate, they created three huge chances just before the half-hour mark although all three were ruled out for offside. Cavani would have been relieved having missed a sitter inside the six-yard box while Nandez headed wide before De Arrascaeta found the net.
Down the other end of the field, a tremendous battle was emerging between Guerrero and Giménez. The Atlético Madrid defender was just about coming out on top, his biggest scare a penalty shout, but that was waved away by the Brazilian referee. Peru went into halftime having maybe had the best of the final 10 minutes, the fluidity of Carrillo, Cueva, Guerrero and Flores was hard to mark especially for right back Giovanni Gonzalez.
Yet it was Uruguay who were better in the second half, but again were thwarted by profligacy in front of goal and the assistant referee’s flag. Seconds into the half they had won a freekick with Federico Valverde stinging Gallese’s palms.
Tabarez sensed his team were in the ascendency and on 57 minutes brought in Torreira for Nandez to set up as a 4-3-3 with De Arrascaeta down the middle. It had an immediate effect, with the Flamengo midfielder closer to Cavani and Suarez they could be more direct and play through the middle.
On 58 minutes Godin turned over the ball from a set piece, moments later Cavani had the ball in the net – a cute curled finish, but he had been a fraction offside. Cavani was finding space in between the central defenders and so was Suárez; it was the latter who diverted a Martin Caceres cross in with his right knee after 73 minutes. That was also flagged for offside, and again VAR upheld the on-field decision, denying the Barcelona frontman what would have been his 7thgoal in 9 games against Peru and his 4thagainst them in just 3 Copa América matches.
After the repeated warning signs, Gareca reacted and took off Carrillo for Christopher Gonzales to try and close out the game. In fact, in the final 15 minutes, Peru looked more assured, but they couldn’t manage a shot on target, the only side not to do so in the quarter-finals.
Both sides chose their all-time top scorers to take the first kick, Peru won that early battle with Suárez seeing his shot saved by Gallese, while Paolo Guerrero converted. The next seven strikes were all successful, and it was left to 25-year-old Edison Flores to take the winning kick. The left-winger held his nerve to dispatch the ball past Muslera and Peru were into the semifinals to face Chile, a repeat of 2015. For Uruguay it was only the 3rdtime in 9 attempts that they haven’t advanced in the quarterfinals, the last time was in 2015 against Chile and before that a 1993 penalty defeat to Colombia.
Uruguay vs Peru – Lineup
Muslera – Caceres, Godin, Gimenez, Gonzalez – de Arrascaeta, Bentancur, Fede Valverde, Nandez – Cavani, Suarez
Gallese – Miguel Trauco, Abram, Zambrano, Advincula – Yotun, Tapia – Flores, Cueva, Carrilo – Guerrero
Ralph Hannah is Londoner, who has lived in Luque and is now located in Miami, with a keen interest in Paraguayan football history and statistics. A frequent traveler throughout Latin America he attends games throughout the region and has written for a variety of publications and set up the first English-language blog on Paraguayan Football. When not in the Defensores del Chaco he’s looking after his 2 daughters. Follow Ralph on Twitter @paraguayralph.