Peru captain Paolo Guerrero said he is grateful to his team-mates after scoring twice in his long-awaited return ahead of the World Cup.
Guerrero was set to miss the World Cup due to a 14-month drugs suspension but a Swiss court suspended his ban from football to consider his appeal on Thursday, clearing the 34-year-old striker to play in the Russia showpiece.
And Peru’s all-time leading scorer made an immediate impact in his comeback on Sunday after his brace inspired a 3-0 win over fellow World Cup participants Saudi Arabia.
“The group received me incredibly, I am very grateful, they have welcomed me and we are very close, nobody can take away that approach”, said Guerrero, who took his international tally to 34 goals.
“It does not matter who makes the goal here, there cannot be vanity, we all play for a single goal.”
— Selección Peruana (@SeleccionPeru) June 3, 2018
Guerrero – who was given an initial 12-month ban after testing positive for cocaine metabolite following a World Cup qualifier against Argentina in October 2017 – was the star of the show in St Gallen.
The Flamengo forward, whose suspension was halved by FIFA following an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) extended it to 14 months after a request by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) amid FIFPro’s calls to reduce the ban, doubled Peru’s lead approaching half-time.
Following Andre Carrillo’s 20th-minute opener, Guerrero netted Peru’s second goal after Abdullah al Maiouf parried the ball straight to the feet of the Peruvian star.
Guerrero then made it 3-0 with a header just past the hour-mark having drifted into the penalty area unmarked at Kybunpark.
“Thank God there were two opportunities and I could make the goals,” Guerrero added.
“The first was a mistake by the goalkeeper that was left for me and I was able to connect it, and the second one was via Carrillo who provided the cross.”
— CONMEBOL.com (@CONMEBOL) June 3, 2018
Peru – unbeaten in 14 matches since 2016 – are set to make their first World Cup appearance in 36 years, with Ricardo Gareca’s men scheduled to face Denmark (June 16), France (June 21) and Australia (June 26) in Group C.
“I believe that this team has to keep their humility, we have not won anything yet,” Guerrero said. “We have to improve and not make mistakes because the World Cup matches will be tougher.”
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