Copa America 2016 | Colombia edge past Peru in penalties to enter semis

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Copa America 2016 | Colombia edge past Peru in penalties to enter semis

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Arun S Kaimal

06/18/2016

In a nail-biting finish at East Rutherford, Colombia defeated Peru 4-2 in penalties to enter the semi-final of the Copa America Centenario. Both teams finished goalless at the end of the 90 minutes before David Ospina emerged as the hero for Colombia by saving a spot-kick from Miguel Trauco.

Starting Line-ups:

Colombia: Ospina; Arias, C. Zapata, Murillo, Diaz; Sanchez, Torres; Cuadrado, James, Cardona; Bacca

Peru: Gallese; Corzo, Ramos, Rodriguez, Trauco; Tapia, Vilchez; Polo, Cueva, Flores; Guerrero

After knocking out Brazil in the last match of the group stages, Peru came into the quarter-final clash against World No.3 Colombia hoping to pull off another surprise. A third successive semi-final appearance was also on the cards for the Los Incas, who finished as third-place winners in the last two editions in 2011 and 2015. Colombia, on the other hand, had started the tournament strongly with wins over the United States and Paraguay, but a loss against Costa Rica in their final group game made them finish second in the table. Colombia coach Jose Pekerman brought back all the big guns for the clash, while Peru coach Ricardo Gareca replaced Adan Balbin with young Feyenoord midfielder Renato Tapia.

Goal-shy Latin Americans

Colombia made a bright start to the match with striker Carlos Bacca running the show in the opening minutes. The AC Milan forward had a good chance to open the scoring in the third minute after he produced a venomous strike from a tight angle that went just wide of the target. James Rodriguez had the best opportunity of the half in the 22nd minute after the Real Madrid man dribbled through the Peru defence before producing a 23-yard right-footer, which cannoned off the post. The rebound fell to Carlos Bacca, but the strike once again failed to find the target. With neither side producing any clear-cut chances, both teams went into the break with the scores deadlocked at 0-0.

Second half – a repeat of first

The second half turned out to be a repeat of the first as both teams continued their wastefulness in front of the goal. Deliveries from free-kicks and corners also disappointed as the match slowly drifted towards penalties. The last minutes of the match produced chances for both, but Bacca once again failed to make proper contact for Colombia, while David Ospina pulled off a stunning save to deny a header from Christian Ramos.

Ospina - the penalty hero

With no goals coming in the normal time, the game went into the lottery of penalties to decide the winner. James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, Dayro Moreno and Sebastian Perez all converted their spot kicks for Colombia, while Ruidiaz and Tapia did the same for Peru. For the third penalty of the Los Incas, defender Miguel Trauco stepped up and smashed one straight down the middle. David Ospina, who dived to the left, used his trailing right leg to stop the ball and gave Colombia the advantage. Two minutes later it was all over. Christian Cueva skied the ball over the crossbar to give Colombia an entry into the last four.

The win gave Colombia their first semi-final appearance since 2004, ending a 12-year last-four drought. They will now take on the winner of the match between Mexico and Chile on Wednesday.  

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