PERSISTENT PERU PASS POWERFUL PARAGUAY IN A PAINFUL PENALTY SHOOT OUT
An entertaining and eventful six-goal Copa América thriller in Goiânia saw Peru edge past Paraguay with a penalty shootout victory after a dramatic 3-3 draw, to book their spot in the semi-finals of this competition for the fourth time in five editions.
Paraguay made the most of an early spring in their step, pinning back Peru and drawing ahead from a corner after 11 minutes, despite a fine initial save from Pedro Gallese in goal, with Gustavo Gómez heading in the rebound. Suitably rattled, Peru perked up and drew level some ten minutes later, when Gianluca Lapadula tapped home a low cross.
Peru then went ahead after 38 minutes, when the Benevento man bagged his second, firing home from a difficult angle and exploiting some dreadful positioning from Paraguay goalkeeper Antony Silva. The tide turning in favour of Peru then became a tsunami, with Paraguay captain Gómez being sent off on the stroke of HT, and completing the pre-match favourites’ first-half capitulation.
Eduardo Berizzo’s side rallied after the break despite losing their captain, drawing level from another corner scored by another centre back as Júnior Alonso wriggled free at the back post and smashed the ball beyond Gallese. From that point, it was anyone’s game, and a penalty shootout looked increasingly inevitable as the minutes ticked by.
It took a hopeful effort from Yoshimar Yotún, and a wicked deflection for Peru, to finally make the most of their numerical advantage with just nine minutes of normal time to play. However, a late sending off for Peru’s André Carrillo evened the odds, and Paraguay tied things up at the death through Gabriel Ávalos to send the game to a penalty shootout.
The penalty shootout went to sudden death, after each side converted three of five penalties apiece. Alberto Espínola took penalty number six, seeing his effort saved by mere fingertips, opening the door for Miguel Trauco to slot home the winning penalty into the corner despite Silva diving the right way. A semi-final with Brazil or Chile now awaits Peru.