In a match that remained unexciting for most part, Peru defeated Paraguay 2-0 to finish on the third spot for the second consecutive edition of Copa America. After a listless first half, Peru was awarded a corner in the 48th minute. Striker Paolo Guerrero headed the ball to midfielder Andre Carrillo, who shot home to put his side 1-0 ahead. With one minute left for the final whistle, it was Guerrero again in action. The Peru forward slammed a right footer to the bottom of the net to record his fourth goal of the tournament. Incidentally, Paolo Guerrero’s performance in Copa America is unique since he has scored 7 out of 10 goals by Peru if the count from 2011 Copa America is also included. In the quarterfinals against Bolivia, Guerrero had scored a hat-trick and in the third-place match against Venezuela in 2011, he had scored a goal as well. That was the match Peru won to finish third in Argentina and with 5 goals, Guerrero emerged as the top scorer in Copa America 2011. Now, with 4 goals in Chile, he is the joint top scorer with home nation’s Eduardo Vargas.
Peru were unlucky to lose to Chile in the semifinal after an impressive show in Copa America 2015. They reached their sixth consecutive quarterfinals of the prestigious South American championship. Paraguay also played well in Copa America 2015 despite their 6-1 thrashing by Argentina in the semifinal. They came through a Group that had defending champion Uruguay and the mighty Brazil, who they defeated at Group stage. For the third-place play-off, Paraguay made seven changes; Marcos Caceres was brought in the defense-line and Roque Santa-Cruz had to go due to injury. Peru did not have Jefferson Farfan in the starting line-up and Christian Ramos played in place of suspended Carlos Zambrano.
The match started with Peru going into attack and earning a corner in the opening minutes. Though the corner was wasted, Peru striker Jose Reyna shot beautifully from long-range in the 7th minute only to be denied by Paraguayan goalkeeper Justo Villar. Despite the high tempo on both sides, the match failed to inspire spectator interest until the half time. Peru missed some close chances and Paraguay came too close in the 19th minute with a long ball from Ramos but it couldn’t find anyone, who could convert it into a goal. In the 30th minute, Paraguay had another chance but Romero was called offside. The game became dull with the end-to-end play as both sides tried scoring from long range shots. The halftime ended scoreless and the players on either side prepared for a dressing down by their coaches for their terrible first-half play.
After half time, Peru began aggressively and won a corner forced by Reyna. It was here that Peru took the 1-0 lead as the corner was headed by Paolo Guerrero towards Andre Carrillo, who volleyed in from 10 yards into the bottom corner. Three minutes later, Paraguay also earned a corner but Oscar Romero couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity. In 52nd minute, Peru had a chance to double their lead as Reyna picked out Cueva on the left but Cueva’s impatience with his aim went against Peru. In 62nd minute, Peru missed another chance, when Carrillo made a smart right flank move and found Cueva on the edge of the box but Cueva sent the ball to Guerrero, who was called off-side. Paraguay had a chance in the 66th minute but Oscar Romero’s 30-yard free-kick fell straight into the hands of the goalkeeper. The second half proved to be far better than the dull first half with both teams looking more committed, although promising chances could not be converted until the 89th minute, when Guerrero found his fourth goal of Copa America 2015. It came from Peru’s counter-attack, when Sanchez ran down the right flank and sent a smart pass to Guerrero, who coolly tapped the ball into the goal and Peru won the match 2-0.
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