Colombia advanced to the semi-finals as they outplayed Peru 4-2 on penalties in the 2016 Copa America Centenario second quarter-final clash at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford on Friday.
Both the teams battled neck to neck but failed to score within the regulation time, forcing the match to be decided on penalty shootouts.
James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, Dayro Moreno and Sebastian Perez made no mistake and scored from the spot kick for Colombia. David Ospina pulled off a stunning save as he acrobatically put his foot forward to block Miguel Trauco’s strike. Christian Cueva, who took a dig at the Colombian team on social media failed to hold on to his nerves as he fired the ball way over the bar to seal Peru’s elimination.
The very physical and hotly contested first half saw the players engaging in unnecessary tackles. Peru managed to frustrate the Colombian attack as they maintained a tight shape at the back. However Colombia spent more time on the ball and they tried to build through the wings. The men in yellow had a couple of chances in the first half but they lacked the finishing.
Colombia had an outside chance to edge past Peru in the 14th minute but Alberto Rodriguez managed to block Torre’s left footed strike from the edge of the box.
James Rodriguez almost scored in the 22nd minute but he was unlucky as the ball hit the post. James came in rushing through the middle before launching a curler beyond Gallese but the ball ramped into the bar to stay out.
Neither side was able to pull up any clear-cut chances on goal as the match with the score locked to 0-0 at half time.
The Second half had nothing new to offer. The battle was restricted more to the midfield as the teams hardly managed to pump the ball into the opposition box.
Peru made some occasional runs through the flanks but they lacked precision in the final third. Colombia felt the urgency and put more bodies forward. The Rodriguez-Cuadrado-Bacca kept the ball rolling for Colombia as they looked for spaces in the opposition defense but Peru didn’t miss a beat at the back and were successful in blocking Colombia’s options.
Both the teams had several opportunities to score from free-kicks but lack of precision and poor deliveries cancelled out their chances of clinching an opener.
Both Colombia and Peru struggled to find that decisive last pass and thus failed to convert from a number of promising attacks.
Bacca had the best chance to put Colombia ahead in the 79th minute but he failed to judge the ball. A cross over the top found Bacca in the area but he failed to make contact with his attempted volley, allowing the Peru keeper to collect it safely.
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Peru almost scored in the dying minutes of the injury time but an acrobatic save from Ospina denied them of a sure winner. Ramos got on the end of a corner and launched a header towards the goal but David Ospina went full stretch and managed to knock it over the bar.
With Colombia scoring all the 4 spot kicks, the pressure was high on the 24-year-old Cueva, who failed to deliver as he fired the ball way over the bar.
Colombia becomes the second team after USA to advance into the semi-finals and they will face Mexico or Chile in their next match.