Paolo Guerrero scored a hat-trick for Peru in a 3-1 win over Bolivia to lead his country into the semi-finals of Copa América 2015.
Less than three minutes later and Ricardo Gareca’s men doubled their advantage, with Guerrero once again hitting the target. Bolivia’s free-kick was cleared out to Christian Cueva – who impressed all game – and his precise through-ball set up the Flamengo striker to calmly find the back of the net.
Quiñónez perhaps could have done better to keep out the effort as he slipped at the vital moment, allowing the forward time to poke his effort goal-bound.
Peru almost had the game wrapped up within the first 45 minutes as Jefferson Farfán first stuck the foot of the post with an outstretched effort and then crashed a free-kick onto the top of the crossbar in additional time.
Following the interval, Verde head coach Maurico Soria made positive changes to his line-up and replaced both his full-back with attacking midfielders and reverted to a back three.
The minnows from La Paz begun the second period positively and there had been clear instruction from the former Wilstermann and Bolívar boss to get the ball to their main goal scoring threat Marcelo Martins Moreno with more urgency.
However, the Group A runners-up were constantly caught in a catch-22 situation as their inability to maintain possession in the final third meant Peru were counter-attacking with alarming regularity. The pace and movement of Los Incas’ front-three, particularly following the introduction of Yordy Reyna in place of Claudio Pizarro, stretched the Bolivia back line but it was eventually an individual mistake which sealed their fate.
Danny Bejarano’s misplaced pass inside his own half was intercepted by Guerrero 30-yards from goal with the Peru attacker desperate to bag the first hat-trick of this year’s tournament. He duly did so and recorded his second treble in five games in the Copa, following his trio of strikes against Venezuela in the 2011 third-place play-off.
The former Hamburg forward is now level with Arturo Vidal at the top of the scorers charts (and two behind Peru’s all-time top scorer Teo Cubillas). Both players will have the chance to add to their tally when the two sides come head to head in Santiago on 29th June.
Bolivia had a key penalty decision turned down by the referee at 2-0. Pedriel’s first touch after coming on saw him clip the ball over the onrushing Gallese and was caught with a crunching hit by the Peru number one. The referee was surrounded and hounded by the Bolivia player but the official remained firm, insisting the player was already going to ground.
However, with six minutes to play, the ref had no choice but to point to the spot. Lizio was brought down by Advincúla and Martins Moreno struck his second penalty of the tournament powerfully down the middle to give his side a glimmer of hope with time running out.
It proved only a consolation and Peru are now through to the last four for a second tournament in succession. Bolivia, who finally ended their 18-year hoodoo of defeats in the Copa, were arguably punching above their weight just reaching the last-eight.
Soria’s men conceded eight goals in their last two games, including a 5-0 defeat to Chile in the group stage and would surely not have progressed had it not been for their stunning first half display against Ecuador.
Jorge Sampaoli will now have a better idea of what his side are up against when Chile and Peru meet in the semi-finals. Guerrero has sealed his name amongst the Copa greats with consecutive tournament hat-tricks and will arrive in Santiago full of confidence.
Farfán was unfortunate not to find his name on the scoresheet after twice striking the woodwork, whilst Cueva will have impressed the on-looking scouts no-end with his constant creativity.