Copa America 2019

Peru target final, Suarez cries after penalty miss

Left: Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese saving Uruguay's first penalty when Luis Suarez shoots straight into him at Arena Fonte Nova Stadium in Salvador, Brazil, on Saturday. Above: A distraught Suarez is comforted by Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese saving Uruguay's first penalty when Luis Suarez shoots straight into him at Arena Fonte Nova Stadium in Salvador, Brazil, on Saturday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SALVADOR (Brazil) • Peru are not exactly in the same class as the other three Copa America semi-finalists, but that has not stopped them from dreaming big.

Peru head coach Ricardo Gareca is confident that the Albirroja are capable of advancing to the final, after a 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory over Uruguay following a goal-less draw on Saturday.

Edinson Flores scored the decisive penalty after goalkeeper Pedro Gallese saved Luis Suarez's attempt in a dramatic end to their quarter-final at Arena Fonte Nova Stadium in Salvador.

Peru will play Chile at Arena do Gremio in Porto Alegre on Wednesday for a place in Sunday's final at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The other semi-final will pit hosts Brazil against Argentina in Belo Horizonte tomorrow.

"We are going to face a great team, but I believe in our players and our capabilities," Gareca told reporters.

"Whether or not it's enough, I don't know. We know that we are strong, regardless of our opponents."

Uruguay dominated the match, but Edinson Cavani, Giorgian de Arrascaeta and then Suarez all had goals chalked off for offside which were each verified by video assistant referee (VAR) checks.

 A distraught Suarez is comforted by Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
Above: A distraught Suarez is comforted by Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. PHOTO:  EPA-EFE

The most successful country in Copa America history with 15 titles became the third team in this tournament to lose a quarter-final tie on spot kicks, after Paraguay were beaten by Brazil and Chile eliminated Colombia.

There was no extra time in the quarter-finals in the event of a draw, although 30 minutes will be added on in the semi-finals and final if necessary.

Suarez squandered the first penalty of the shoot-out after his effort bounced off the chest of Peru goalkeeper Gallese.

Every other player converted his attempt and Flores sealed Peru's place in the last four by blasting past Fernando Muslera.

Suarez, who rushed back to full fitness after undergoing knee surgery in May in order to make it for the Copa, covered his face with his shirt and was consoled by teammates after the game.

"Luis was very sad, he ended up missing in a decisive moment, but that's football and life," Cavani told reporters.

"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. We have won the Copa before but, today, we have to accept that we are out."

Uruguay's veteran coach Oscar Tabarez, who has overseen 196 matches during a 13-year stint, made no excuses for the defeat.

"You can't explain the result, it was due to many things," said the 72-year-old.

"We were wasteful in the 90 minutes, you could see that throughout the match and Peru were better in the penalties. We have to accept defeat and know how to lose."

REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2019, with the headline 'Peru target final, Suarez cries after penalty miss'. Print Edition | Subscribe