Peru beats Paraguay on penalties to reach Copa America semis

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Peru beat Paraguay 4-3 on penalties Friday to advance to the Copa America semifinals within the most thrilling tournament match thus far . Regular time at the Olimpico Stadium in Goiania finished 3-3 after a hard-fought match that included red cards to key players of both teams and two goals by Italian-born Gianluca Lapadula for Peru. The decisive moment within the quarterfinal came after Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese stopped Alberto Espinola within the shootout. Miguel Trauco converted his shot to place the runners- from the 2019 Copa America back in contention.

Daniel Martinez and Braian Samudio had also missed Paraguay. Santiago Ormeño and Christian Cueva were stopped by Paraguay’s Antony Silva. “This was a tremendous match,” a tired Lapadula said after the shootout, during which he converted from the spot. “We can’t choose adversaries, we’ve to think we are within the semifinal. Now we’ve to figure to urge there well.” Peru will face either Brazil or Chile, which also plays Friday. Paraguay was without Miguel Almirón, one among its top players within the tournament, thanks to a left thigh injury. Coach Eduardo Berizzo’s side opened the scoring within the 11th minute with Gustavo Gómez pushing the ball to the empty net after a corner.

Lapadula scored his first within the 21st from close range after an assist from Andre Carrillo. He added another within the 40th minute with a crossed shot from the left flank after Paraguayan defenders stopped to complain a few fouls. Peruvians looked certain they might advance after they took the lead and Paraguayan defender Gómez was sent off in added time after a second yellow. But Paraguay started the last half well and put pressure on Peru. Junior Alonso leveled the scoring within the 54th minute after burying the ball past Gallese after a corner. And opportunities kept coming, especially in corners. Peru’s Yoshimar Yotún frustrated Paraguayans with a goal from the sting of the box 80th minute after the ball deflected off a Paraguayan defender. But more twists were to return.

Five minutes later, Peruvian striker André Carrillo also received his second yellow. Paraguay decided to charge forward and it resulted during a late close-range goal by substitute Gabriel Avalos — who had stepped in eight minutes before — to level the match and send it to penalties. Lapadula said on Instagram he had ended the extreme match with a broken nose. Peru advanced to the semifinals after Lapadula, Yotún, Renato Tapia and Trauco scored within the shootout. Paraguay’s Ángel Romero, Alonso and Robert Piris da Motta also converted.

“We can’t enjoy this, we’ve to specialize in what’s coming,” said Peru coach Ricardo Garea, who took the team to its fourth consecutive Copa America semifinal. “We have embodied a playing style for several years now.” Peru will play its Copa America semifinal on Monday at the Nilton Santos Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. It lost 4-0 within the group stage of the tournament to Brazil, one among its possible semifinal opponents.

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