Record-breaker Paolo Guerrero inspired Peru to a 1-0 win over Haiti in their Copa America Centenario opener on Saturday.
Guerrero scored the only goal of the game at the CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington as Peru begin the special-edition tournament with an important win.
The goal also meant 32-year-old Guerrero moved above Teofilo Cubillas as outright all-time leading goalscorer for the national team with 27.
Peru were the better team throughout the game and should have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time when Guerrero set up Edison Flores, but the 22-year-old smashed his shot off the post.
But Flores managed to return the favour in the 61st minute, putting in a delightful cross to Guerrero, who lost his man and converted the winning goal with a diving header.
The win puts Peru top of Group B, with Brazil still to face Ecuador later in the day.
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca made a host of changes from the side’s 3-1 win over El Salvador in their final warm-up game for the Copa, with Guerrero the biggest inclusion.
Sao Paulo’s Christian Cueva also made it into the starting XI and almost had an immediate impact, but his shot in the fourth minute went straight to Haiti goalkeeper Johnny Placide.
Peru continued to threaten in the opening stages and Guerrero’s cutback found Alejandro Hohberg in the box, but the 24-year-old fluffed his shot.
A poor giveaway by the Peruvian midfield gave Kevin Lafrance a chance to attack the defence, but after dribbling into the area he was unable to get a proper shot away.
As the half went on, Haiti were able to gain more confidence and had a great chance to take the lead in the 28th minute after Alberto Rodriguez gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position.
However, Mechack Jerome could not find the target from the edge of the area, hitting his set-piece just over the crossbar.
A long-range effort from Peru’s Renato Tapia went well wide of Placide’s goal, before Guerrero blasted a volley wide just a minute later after being found unmarked in the box by Cueva.
Haiti coach Patrice Neveu was seemingly unimpressed with Max Hilaire’s contribution in the first half, replacing the Cholet midfielder with Jean Alexandre before the 40th-minute mark, much to the 30-year-old’s displeasure.
The best chance of the opening period then fell Peru’s way in the closing stages, but Flores’ shot cannoned off the post after he was teed up by Guerrero.
Peru looked the most likely to open the scoring in the second half, and defender Renzo Revoredo had a great chance blocked by the onrushing Placide.
But the South Americans would have to wait just 60 seconds to take the lead, with Flores’ cross setting up Guerrero for the diving header just after the hour-mark.
Some great build-up play from Peru led to another chance for Guerrero in the 65th minute, but the Flamengo striker’s shot was stopped by Placide.
Haiti pushed in the closing stages and almost found a dramatic equaliser in the 94th minute, but substitute Kervens Belfort put a close-range header wide, much to the relief of the Peruvians.
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