Colombia advanced to their first Copa America semi-final since 2004 after winning 4-2 on a tiebreaker against a doggedly determined Peruvian side which refused to yield to Colombia’s attacking threat till the 90th minute in New Jersey’s Metlife Stadium.
Former Argentina manager Jose Pekerman’s side were criticised due to their complacency after they made light of their remaining fixtures having defeated USA in their opening game. Peru, on the other hand, have already caused some heavy upsets after booting tournament favorites Brazil out of the competition and went unbeaten in 3 games.
A Game Fraught with Tackles and Injuries
In accordance with expectations Peru played a very good game. With Colombian strikers wasteful of the half chances, they were handed by an extremely competent Peruvian defense. Bacca had the first half chance of the match as early as the 3rd minute when he dribbled all the way to test the keeper with a low angled shot. The match would go on to produce numerous chances, rough tackles and free kicks on both ends as both teams struggled to find an opening goal which never came.
Cuadrado, James and Bacca were the main attacking threats for Colombia as they piled pressure on Los Ticos led by coach Ricardo Gareca and talisman Paolo Guerrero who had scored against Haiti and registered two assists against Ecuador. However, Cuardrado and Bacca were very wasteful throughout the match with their clumsy first touches and a propensity of often dribbling straight into a defensive wall.
On more than one occasion Bacca had failed to capitalise on James’ excellent build up play and even his rebounds as the Real Madrid bench warmer kept running down Peruvian defenders. Collisions, nasty challenges, yellow cards and injuries were the order of the day right down to the final minutes of the game when Diaz was replaced with Frank Fabra who scored an own goal against Costa Rica.
As per the tradition in the Copa, the game directly goes to the penalties without extra time being played to separate the two teams; it was left to a tie breaker to decide who would advance to the next stage of the competition. James took the first penalty followed by Cuadrado and Moreno for Colombia who never looked like missing the spot. David Ospina in the Colombia goal who had pulled off the most important save of the game in the dying embers of the game from a blistering header from
James took the first penalty followed by Cuadrado and Moreno for Colombia who never looked like missing the spot. David Ospina in the Colombia goal – who had pulled off the most important save of the game in the dying embers of the match, from a blistering header from Ramos – pulled off another great save with his legs, this time from 23-year-old Miguel Trauco.
Los Cafeteros sealed the victory 4-2 once the highly rated Christian Cueva skied his penalty. It was an unfortunate kick for the 24-year-old set piece expert who had been one of the stars of the Peruvian team alongside Guerrero, with his vibrant and energetic style of play.
Colombia advances to the next round in front of a sellout 79 thousand plus crowd mostly in yellow, interspersed with the Peruvian red, to play the winner of Saturday’s match between Mexico and Chile.