Porto Alegre (Brazil): Peru stunned defending champions Chile 3-0 to reach the final of the Copa America for the first time in 44 years. Goals from Edison Flores, Yoshimar Yotun and Paolo Guerrero handed Peru a deserved win which sends them into a final against Brazil at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday. The stunning upset prevented Chile's golden generation from challenging for a third straight title, following their wins over Argentina in 2015 and 2016. Instead, the finalists from the previous two editions will meet in Saturday's third-place play-off in Sao Paulo.
Little was expected of Peru in the knock-out stages after they ended the group phase with a humbling 5-0 thrashing by Brazil. But after riding their luck, and being saved by VAR three times, to beat Uruguay on penalties in the quarter-final, they were a completely rejuvenated outfit in Porto Alegre. Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, the villain of that 5-0 defeat, was again faultless, as he had been in the quarter-final when decisively saving Luis Suarez's shoot-out penalty. He again saved a penalty and made a number of other vital stops.
From the start, Peru dominated the reigning champions, with Christian Cueva wastefully shooting wide two minutes in after he was teed up in space by his captain Guerrero.On seven minutes Chile's Charles Aranguiz started and finished a superb passing move involving Alexis Sanchez and Jean Beausejour, by placing a precise shot just past the post.
Flores took advantage of an Erick Pulgar slip in midfield to dart towards goal but he dragged his weak shot woefully wide. But a minute later he was alone at the back post to lash home left-footed from an Andre Carillo flick on from Cueva's cross. Striker Guerrero made a timely intervention in his own area to prevent a Sanchez corner from sneaking in at the near post. Yotun doubled the lead on 38 minutes after punishing Chile goalkeeper Gabriel Arias's rush of blood to the head. Carillo chased a long ball down the right-hand side and beat Arias, who ill-advisedly had charged from his area to the ball before picking out Yotun on the edge of the 18-yard area.
Faced with four back-tracking defenders, Yotun calmly controlled the ball on his chest and sent a low volley straight down the middle of the empty goal. Equally importantly was Gallese's one-hand save to tip over a Jose Fuenzalida volley a minute before the break. A 2-0 half-time lead was the least Peru deserved after an enterprising performance against tentative opponents. Chile were a lick of paint away from getting back into the match on 51 minutes when Eduardo Vargas's flicked header beat Gallese but agonisingly came back off the post.
Peru should have put the game to bed on a rapier counter-attack on the hour but Guerrero and Cueva passed rather than shooting and Yotun ballooned over from six yards with the goal gaping. Peru started sitting deeper, inviting Chile to attack and Aranguiz sent a rasping shot whistling past the top corner with Gallese a mere spectator. Gallese then tipped over a looping volley from Beausejour and 15 minutes from time he stayed big to block a shot from Vargas one-on-one. He was unbeatable and dived low to his right to palm out a venomous Sanchez effort from 20 yards. Guerrero put the icing on the cake in injury time after rounding Arias, but Gallese had the last word from the penalty spot.
Willian to miss final
Rio De Janeiro: Brazil's attacking midfielder Willian will miss Sunday's Copa America final against either champions Chile or Peru after injuring his hamstring, the tournament hosts said on Wednesday. The 30-year-old Chelsea player was a second-half substitute in Brazil's 2-0 semi-final victory over arch-rivals Argentina, coming on for winger Everton. A Brazil football federation (CBF) spokesman said Willian had felt pain in his hamstring and was sent for tests on Wednesday afternoon where it was found that he had a pulled muscle. Brazilian media said he was injured during Tuesday's match. The CBF spokesman said the recovery time needed meant Willian would miss the final.
AFA not happy with referee
Buenos Aires: The Argentine Football Association (AFA) on Wednesday lodged a complaint with South American football's governing body CONMEBOL over the serious and gross refereeing errors in their Copa America semi-final loss to arch rivals and tournament hosts Brazil. Lionel Messi's side were beaten 2-0 as their wait for a first major title since 1993 was extended on Tuesday. AFA president Claudio Tapia also criticised Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, who attended the game in Belo Horizonte and who performed a clear political demonstration that included an Olympic lap of honor around the stadium at half-time.
Tapia sent a six-page letter to CONMEBOL in support of the Argentinian team and after Messi himself had expressed his anger against South American football's governing body and the refereeing of Ecuadorian Roddy Zambrano. Tapia said that Zambrano "unjustifiably omitted the use of VAR in at least two specific moves that clearly influenced the final result of the match." And he questioned whether "the principles of ethics, loyalty and transparency" had been observed during the match.
- Agence France Presse