Heading into the Copa America semi-final tie between Peru and Chile, it felt like a lot of people took it upon themselves to write the Peruvians off before the game had even begun. To a certain extent you could understand their logic behind that, purely based off of the respective recent histories of the two South American nations.
As reported by BBC and The Guardian, though, they probably should’ve awarded Peru a little bit more respect as the two-time defending champions were denied a place in the final after losing 3-0 in what can only be described as a stunning triumph.
Not good enough
Chile had several chances throughout the course of the game, including a late penalty in which they were denied, but the real story here is the rise of Peru. They failed to live up to the hype during the 2018 FIFA World Cup last summer, and this year, they’ve been able to right that wrong in a big way when few expected them to do so.
“We’ve come through some tough moments in the Copa and we deserve to be in the final,” said Peru coach Ricardo Gareca.
“We managed to overcome the huge adversity that was this defeat, and that was hastily judged and provoked a wave of harsh criticism.”
Goals from Edison Flores and Yoshimar Yotun gave them a two goal advantage over Chile, at which point it felt like they were cruising towards the win. They allowed the reigning champions to come back into the game ever so slightly as things progressed, but in injury time, the legendary Paolo Guerrero made sure to get in on the act by adding a third to confirm Peru’s place in the final.
“I don’t know what factors could have influenced these first 20 minutes that made the difference,” said Chile manager Reinaldo Rueda.
“Mentally we wanted to play the final without dealing first with this step and Peru surprised us.”
The rise of Peru
In many ways, it felt as if the Peruvians had a chip on their shoulder coming into this game. Due to the manner in which they were able to reach the semi-final stage, nobody really gave them any kind of respect or chance at winning the game. Alas, it has become obvious that there needs to be a little bit more respect for their abilities, to the point where they’re now just one win away from a famous triumph.
They face a notable uphill challenge in the form of hosts Brazil in the final, who were able to dispatch of Argentina in the semi-finals.
The bizarre thing about the final is that we’ve already seen this game take place earlier on in the tournament, when Brazil absolutely destroyed Peru 5-0. It’s somewhat crazy to think that they’re going to meet once again, in what could be the most one-sided final when it comes to betting odds in the recent history of international football.
It’s a David vs Goliath encounter, and as football fans, that’s the kind of drama we like to see.