Fernando Amorebieta shouldered the blame for Venezuela’s 1-0 defeat against rivals Peru, a result that blew Group C wide open.
Amorebieta was issued a straight red card by referee Raul Orozco for stomping on Paulo Guerrero’s knee just shy of the half-hour mark in Valparaiso on Thursday.
The left-back’s careless dismissal ultimately led to Venezuela’s demise as Claudio Pizarro netted the match-winning goal against 10 men with 18 minutes remaining at Estadio Elias Figueroa Brander.
Speaking to reporters post-match, Amorebieta said: “I did not intend to step on but will not go to criticize the referee, because he decides.
“I can only take the blame because the red card changed the game.”
Thursday’s result left the group up for grabs, as Venezuela, Peru, Brazil and Colombia are all level on three points with one match remaining.
Venezuela face eight-time champions Brazil in their final group fixture on Sunday but coach Noel Sanvicente is undaunted by the task ahead, having already stunned Colombia in their tournament opener.
“We will make an excellent match to qualify. In this Copa America we beat Colombia for the first time in competition, perhaps we can beat Brazil for the first time,” Sanvicente said afterwards.
“The Cup is very even and anyone can beat anyone. In the group we were all the same and it will be like starting from scratch.
“We have to go out with the mentality that we can win, but we’ll keep playing our style and our strengths.”
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