Paolo Guerrero silenced his critics with a hat-trick as Peru overcame Bolivia 3-1 for a spot in the final four of the Copa America.
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca was forced to defend Guerrero’s goalscoring record pre-match, after the striker went goalless in all three group games in Chile, leaving him with just two international goals since 2012.
Guerrero, however, proved his worth with his second Copa America hat-trick at Estadio Municipal German Becker on Thursday as Peru earned back-to-back semi-final appearances, having reached the final four in Argentina in 2011, and a showdown with host nation Chile.
The Flamengo recruit, who claimed a three-goal haul against Venezuela four years ago, broke the deadlock with his head in the 20th minute, before doubling his tally following a swift counter attack three minutes later.
Guerrero completed his hat-trick and a memorable performance with 16 minutes remaining as he moved second on Peru’s all-time goalscoring charts with 24, alongside Teodoro Fernandez.
Marcelo Martins converted a penalty six minutes from time but it was too little, too late for the Bolivians.
Bolivia – appearing in their first quarter-final since 1997 – made a host of changes to the team that lost 5-0 to Chile last week, with Edemir Rodriguez, Pablo Escobar, Ricardo Pedriel and Walter Veizaga dropping out for Edward Zenteno, Miguel Hurtado, Danny Bejarano and Alcides Pena.
Star forward Jefferson Farfan returned for Peru, while Victor Yotun and Edwin Retamoso were named in the starting XI at the expense of Josepmir Ballon and suspended captain Carlos Lobaton following last week’s goalless draw with Colombia.
Bolivia came into the match as the lowest ranked nation remaining in the quarter-finals and they lived up to that tag as Peru gained a stranglehold on proceedings inside the opening 23 minutes.
Guerrero was the chief destroyer with a quick-fire brace, the first of his goals coming in the 20th minute after rising highest to head Juan Vargas’ cross past goalkeeper Romel Quinonez, albeit with some help from a deflection off Cristian Coimbra.
It got better three minutes later as Peru caught Bolivia on the counter, with Christian Cueva playing through Guerrero, who tucked the ball underneath Quinonez.
Bolivia slowly worked their way back into the contest and they almost pulled a goal back via Leonel Morales and his thunderous long-range strike, while Martins forced Pedro Gallese into a save.
The result was almost put beyond doubt before half-time, but Farfan’s free-kick rattled the crossbar, having hit the outside of the post minutes earlier.
Farfan was in the thick of the action in the second half, though a goal continued to elude the forward, despite two good opportunities.
At the other end, Bolivia’s appeals for a 69th-minute penalty were waved away by referee Wilmar Roldan. Ricardo Pedriel appeared to be taken down by Gallese en route to goal.
Bolivia’s woes were compounded five minutes later, when Guerrero capitalised on Bejarano’s wayward pass as he drove through on goal unchallenged for his hat-trick.
The Bolivians salvaged some pride late in the match, when Martins converted from the penalty spot after Ronald Raldes was brought down by substitute Yordy Reyna inside the area.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!