Peru draws with Colombia to reach Copa America quarterfinals
PABLO ELIAS GIUSSANI
Jun. 22, 2015
TEMUCO, Chile (AP) — Peru held Colombia to a 0-0 draw Sunday to secure a spot in the Copa America quarterfinals.
Colombia also advanced after Brazil defeated Venezuela 2-1 in the late game in Group C. A draw would have eliminated the team led by James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao from the South American competition.
Brazil finished first in the group with six points, two more than Peru and Colombia, which made it as one of the top-two third-place finishers in all three groups. Defending champion Uruguay was the other third-place team to advance.
In the quarterfinals, Peru will play Bolivia, Colombia will face Lionel Messi's Argentina, host Chile will play Uruguay and Brazil will meet Paraguay.
With Colombia surviving, the Copa America avoided losing two of its greatest stars in Falcao and Rodriguez. Neymar was already out after being suspended four games after a confrontation with Colombian players.
Falcao and Rodriguez had a lackluster performance on Sunday, failing to give Colombia the victory that would have secured their team a spot in the next round without depending on other results.
"When you play poorly, you end up paying for it," said Rodriguez, who thrived with Colombia at last year's World Cup in Brazil. "We played poorly in the first match and we played poorly today, that's why we are in trouble. If we want to win anything, we will have to work very hard."
The Colombians played aggressively in the beginning and created a few good scoring chances at the match in the German Becker Stadium in Temuco. Peru played conservatively from the start, knowing that a draw would be enough to secure its spot in the quarterfinals. It threatened in a few counter-attacks but at all times seemed happy with the draw.
"We played knowing that they were under pressure, they needed the victory," Peru defender Carlos Zambrano said. "It was really difficult, but the goal was to advance."
Falcao had the best chance to score less than five minutes into the game, firing a low shot that was saved by Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. Colombia dominated possession the rest of the match but wasn't able to threaten very often.
Colombian defensive midfielder Edwin Valencia had to be substituted midway through the first half because of apparent knee injury.
"We were playing well until (the injury) to Valencia," Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said. "It's difficult to lose a player when you are playing well, when you are organized. We faced something that was unexpected."