A goal from the Sporting Lisbon Forward and the former Bayern Munich Striker, ensured Los Incas ended the tournament in respectable fashion, while an abject Paraguay succumbed to yet another defeat.
Two strikes after half-time ensured Los Incas ended the tournament on a high, as they left La Conception as third-place finishers. for the second successive Copa.
While the tournament threw it’s fair share of obstacles Peru’s way, Ricardo Gareca’s men overcame nearly every obstacle. They ousted Brazil for the second consecutive time, and took hosts Chile to the vary limit, despite losing out eventually.
Coming into the 3rd place play-off, Peru were reasonably confident about their chances, given that Paraguay suffered more than just embarrassment, after being defeated 6-1 by finalists Argentina. Derlis Gonzalez (thigh), Roque Santa Cruz (hamstring), Bruno Valdez (thigh), Nelson Valdez (thigh), Edgar Benitez, Richard Ortiz and Ivan Piris dropped out for Lucas Barrios, Raul Bobadilla, Oscar Romero, Osvaldo Martinez, Nestor Ortigoza, Miguel Samudio and Marcos Caceres.
Gareca made two changes to his Peruvian side, with Christian Ramos and Yordy Reyna starting in place of Jefferson Farfan, who did not pass a late fitness test, and Carlos Zambrano (suspended) after the 2-1 defeat to Chile.
Despite holding a slender edge, Paraguay fending off the Peruvian threat the entire first half. Chances were at a premium in the first half, with both teams failing to create anything clear-cut during the opening 45 minutes.
Both teams were limited to trying their luck from distance, as Reyna and Romero launched long-range strikes for Peru and Paraguay respectively as the half ended all-square.
After the break, it was Peru who sprang to life. Sporting forward Andre Carillo netted the opening goal from the edge of the box, after a poor clearance from a corner fed the ball straight to him. Carillo still had lots to do, as his strike on goal came whilst he was falling backwards, making the goal all the more spectacular.
Peru were firmly in front from there on out, with Carillo and Guerrero tearing through the Paraguayan defence, much like how Argentina had done on Monday.
Substitutions made by both teams injected some much needed life into the game. Benitez’ arrival, in place of Oscar Martinez nearly gave Paraguay the equaliser, which was denied only by a goal line clearance.
After controlling a surprising run of Paraguayan momentum, Peru put the match to bed, as former Bayern Munich front man, Palo Guerrero netted in his fourth goal of the tournament, courtesy of a simple finish from 5 yards. Barring a productive performance by Edu Vargas, Guerrero might be in with a shout to get the tournament’s Golden Boot.
Despite Peru having recorded just one victory against Paraguay in their last 13 meetings in the Copa America (D6, L6), the night’s victory showed that Peru have the quality to challenge the continents best.
Peru will now have to look firmly to World Cup qualification. Their last appearance in the tournament was more than three decades ago, in 1982. With the Horizon looking more positive for Peru, Los Incas will have to draw both heart and inspiration from this time’s Copa, to get back to a position on International respectability.