Peru became the first side to book their place in the Copa America semi-finals after beating Paraguay on penalties in a dramatic tie that finished 3-3 following normal time and saw both teams receive red cards.
Ricardo Gareca’s Peru recovered from a goal down thanks to Gianluca Lapadula’s first-half double at Estadio Olimpico Pedro Ludovico, where Gustavo Gomez had given Paraguay an early lead on Friday.
Paraguay lost captain Gomez to a controversial second bookable offence just before half-time yet hit back through Junior Alonso’s strike early in the second half.
Yoshimar Yotun appeared to have won the game for 2019 runners-up Peru with a deflected goal 10 minutes from time, but Andre Carrillo was also dismissed and substitute Gabriel Avalos levelled up in the final seconds to send the contest to penalties.
Following the script of the previous 90 minutes, the shoot-out was equally as eventful as four players failed to convert from 12 yards, but the drama was ended when Miguel Trauco tucked away the decisive spot-kick to set up a semi-final with defending champions Brazil or two-time winners Chile.
— Copa América (@CopaAmerica) July 2, 2021
Gomez reacted quickest to help the ball over the line from a yard out after Pedro Gallese had kept out Hector Martinez’s attempt for the first major incident in a Copa classic.
Lapadula then found a way through for Peru with a side-foot finish inside the six-yard box with 21 minutes on the clock following some impressive play from Carrillo.
Yotun slotted in Lapadula to tuck under Antony Silva for his second goal, which was allowed to stand despite the ball hitting the arm of Carrillo in the build-up.
Paraguay were further aggrieved before half-time as Gomez was issued a second yellow card for catching Lapadula with a flailing arm, the defender having to be held back by his team-mates as he approached referee Esteban Ostojich.
However, Alonso stepped up and drilled home at the back post after a cross was helped into his path with 54 minutes played.
Definición por penales
— Selección Peruana (@SeleccionPeru) July 2, 2021
Paraguay hearts were broken when Yotun’s deflected shot from range had Peru on the brink of victory.
There was still time for another couple of twists, though, as Carrillo received a second yellow for a foul on Alberto Espinola and, five minutes later, Avalos slotted into an empty net to spark wild scenes of celebrations.
However, it was Peru who were celebrating come the end of penalties.
Martinez and Braian Samudio both missed for Paraguay, while Santiago Ormeno and Christian Cueva were denied by Silva, but Trauco held his nerve to finally put an end to the tie.
What does it mean? Peru through to another semi-final
Peru finished runners-up to Brazil in the 2019 Copa America and have now reached the semi-finals in four of the last five editions of the South American competition.
A meeting with Brazil or Chile awaits in the last four and, with just one loss in their last six games – albeit against Brazil in the group stage – La Blanquirroja will feel confident of keeping their quest for a third title alive.
Lapadula at the double
The Benevento forward profited from some brilliant work via Carrillo down the right for his first goal and made the most of some terrible Silva positioning for his second.
That brace for Lapadula, coming from four shots in total, was his first ever for Peru having scored just once in his first eight games for his national side.
Gomez goes from hero to zero
The sending off was debatable, with Lapadula doing all he could to get his opponent dismissed, and it was a huge moment in the game – even if Paraguay did fight back and take the game the distance.
With that red card, Gomez is the first player to score a goal and be given his marching orders in the first half of the same Copa America game since Diego Perez for Uruguay against Argentina in 2011.
Peru have a semi-final in Rio de Janeiro to look forward to on Monday, with their opponents to be determined later on Friday. As for Paraguay, they are not back in action until September with a doubleheader of World Cup qualifiers.
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