Peru pull off major shock to reach Copa America final for first time in 44 years
Against all the odds, Peru booked their place in Sunday's Copa America final after deservedly defeating Chile 3-0 in Porto Alegre. They absolutely dominated the first period and held firm in the second largely thanks to some fantastic goalkeeping by Pedro Gallese.
Peru made their intentions clear from the off and they nearly scored inside two minutes. Guerrero was played a lovely pass from midfield by Carrillo, the captain then found Christian Cueva on his right who shot just wide of the left hand post. Aranguiz, Chile's best player of the game, then threatened at the other end five minutes later after a receiving a lovely ball in from Beausejour, but he also hit just wide of the upright. That was a rare sight at goal for Chile though as Peru dominated the entire first half.
Guerrero called the Chile defenders into action and then Edison Flores saw his shot in the 19th minute deflected for a corner, but seconds later, Peru finally hit the front. Yotun sent a long ball, Carrillo could not control and Cueva picked up the loose ball before sending a brilliant cross into the box which was flicked on by Carrillo and Flores hit across the keeper at the far post and into the net, Six minutes later, he hit wide from 25 yards out and even though Sanchez nearly scored from a corner shortly afterwards, Peru doubled their lead seven minutes before half-time.
A long punt was sent for Carrillo down the right flank, Arias inexplicably raced out of his goal when the Peru man was in the corner, Carrillo crossed it for Yotun in the D and he chested it before firing it into an empty net. It was a goalkeeping calamity and completely unnecessary.
Chile then picked up just before half-time as they decided to throw more men forward. Aranguiz fired wide and then in the 44th minute, Fuenzalida was denied by a super save from Gallese who tipped his strike over the crossbar. That little spell before half-time was a sign of what was to come in the second half.
Early in the second half, Peru suffered a blow as Flores had to go off injured and in the 51st minute, Vargas hit the post with his header from a free-kick after Trauco had given away a needless free-kick. Trauco then redeemed himself a few minutes later as he cut out a dangerous looking Beausejour cross and on the hour mark, Peru should have killed the game. Carrillo started the counter, Guerrero was also involved and it should have been a goal, but Yotun inexplicably hit the ball over the bar from 10 yards out.
Cueva then hit fractionally over three minutes later from 25 yards out and then Aranguiz hit wide at the other end in the 65th minute. Chile then nearly halved the deficit in fortuitous fashion just after the halfway point in the second half when Beausejour received a long pass and tried to cross, but it became a dangerous shot and Gallese had to knock it over with his right hand. Chile then continued to press and had many chances, but they were continually frustrated by Gallese in goal.
Vargas headed wide after a free-kick was half cleared then after 75 minutes, he was clean through on goal and one on one with the keeper, but Gallese came out to narrow the angle and he was denied. He and his teammates claimed Cueva pulled him back and should have been sent off and replays showed he did pull him back, but it was only very briefly, but it could still have been given.
Chile continued to pepper the goal and Isla struck a powerful effort before the Peru keeper made a good stop from Vidal's header and then from a thunderous 25 yard strike from Sanchez eight minutes from time after diving to his right. As time was running out, Guerrero sealed the game for Peru after Tapia played an excellent pass for him. He went round the keeper and kept his cool to slot it into an empty net in the 91st minute.
There was still time for Chile to get a VAR penalty after Abram fouled Aranguiz, but Eduardo Vargas saw his Panenka penalty saved to round off a disappointing night for the Chileans. The two-time defending champions will once again play Argentina, but this time in the 3rd place play-off and not in the final as it was on the last two occasions. For Peru, it was a superb night as they knocked out one of the tournament's best teams and they will fancy their chances on Sunday at the Maracana against hosts Brazil.