PORTO ALEGRE • Peru coach Ricardo Gareca praised his side for overcoming adversity after they reached the Copa America final with a 3-0 win over defending champions Chile on Wednesday.
Peru were completely transformed from the meek side that were thrashed 5-0 by Brazil in their final group-stage match as goals from Edison Flores, Yoshimar Yotun and Paolo Guerrero carried them to a first final since 1975, when they won their second Copa.
"We've come through some tough moments in the Copa and we deserve to be in the final," said the Argentinian coach, whose side will face Brazil again on Sunday.
"We managed to overcome the huge adversity, this defeat by Brazil that was hastily judged and provoked a wave of harsh criticism (in the Peruvian press)."
The victory over the double defending champions also avenged Peru's defeat by Chile in the 2015 semi-finals.
Midfielder Yotun believes that Peru will now produce a better performance against Brazil.
"The defeat to Brazil was very tough, but this game will be different," he said as he looked ahead to the showpiece at the Maracana.
"It's a final, you have to win a final and we are going to try and lift this Copa. We tried to work hard in games we were never favourites, and that makes us stronger."
Peru are Copa America finalists for the third time, winning on both their previous appearances in 1939 and 1975.
Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda was at a loss to explain his team's performance, a stark contrast to their impressive showing against Colombia in the quarter-finals.
"We didn't get into the game, we didn't show the attitude or aggressiveness of other matches," said the Colombian.
Off the pitch, the Argentinian football federation (AFA) has complained to the governing South American body Conmebol over refereeing decisions it believes went against Lionel Messi's team in Tuesday's semi-final loss to Brazil.
In a letter published on the AFA home page late on Wednesday, Argentina criticised the performance of Ecuadorian referee Roddy Zambrano in the 2-0 defeat.
It said the video assistant referee (VAR) should have intervened in "at least two situations" to review penalty claims for potential fouls on Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, DPA