Christian Cueva looked terrified when he stepped up, so it wasn’t a surprise when he launched his penalty kick high over David Ospina’s goal.
The MetLife Stadium exploded, Colombia supporters feeling a mixture of relief and excitement, fresh off the hook and heading to the Copa America Centenario semi-final. Their team had failed to press home the clear advantage in quality they had and ended up facing the near coin-flip that is penalties.
Arsenal goalkeeper Ospina, who saved Christian Ramos’ header in stoppage time at the end of the game, denied Miguel Trauco, who fired down the middle but saw his effort blocked by the Colombian’s trailing foot.
David Ospina pumps his fists in celebration after he saved the penalty to send Colombia in to the semi-final
The Arsenal goalkeeper denied Miguel Trauco who shot down the middle but Ospina denied him with his leg
Jubilant Colombian players run towards the keeper after their penalty shoot-out victory in New Jersey
James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, Dayro Moreno and Sebastian Perez converted for Colombia, while Raul Ruidiaz and Renato Tapia scored for Peru, but Ospina’s save and Cueva’s ballooned effort ended what had been an impressive Copa America charge, his team having beaten Brazil and Haiti and drawn with Ecuador in the group.
The pattern of the game was clear from the start, with Colombia driving forward and Peru looking to keep them at bay primarily, with a secondary aim of breaking to try and hit them on the counter-attack.
With Colombia players zipping around, particularly Juan Cuadrado, at times the only means Peru had of stopping them was to trip them. There were a dozen fouls before the game had reached 20 minutes, most of them on Los Cafeteros.
James Rodriguez (left) gives his team-mate some confidence ahead of the penalties to decide the game
Rodriguez confidently buried his penalty and the captain led by example all game as he drove his side on
Colombia: Ospina 7; Arias 6, Murillo 6.5, Zapata 7, Diaz 6.5 (Fabra 90); Sanchez 6.5, Torres 6.5 (Perez 80); Cuadrado 7, James 7, Cardona 6 (D Moreno 76); Bacca 5.5.
Booked: Diaz, Zapata.
Peru: Gallese 6.5; Corzo 6, Ramos 6.5, Rodriguez 7, Trauco 7; Vilchez 6.5, Tapia 7, Polo 6.5 (Bernavente 81), Cueva 5.5, Flores 6 (Ruidiaz 77); Guerrero 7.
Ref: Patricio Loustau (Argentina).
Attendance: 79, 194.
In the 22nd minute they should have opened the scoring, when James surged forward and curled a low effort from the edge of the box that struck the inside of Pedro Gallese’s post and bounced out. The goalkeeper was frozen, rooted to the spot, but when the ball span back to Carlos Bacca, the AC Milan striker hit the side netting.
At the other end Peru were quiet, bar an Edison Flores header from Paolo Guerrero’s cross which sailed over the crossbar. They had their first sustained period of possession after half-an-hour, but failed to create many chances.
Referee Patricio Loustau was notable before the game because he was taking charge of it 27 years after his father Juan Carlos officiated this clash in the 1989 Copa America, but he soon was being talked about for his leniency.
As bad tackles flew in, with Colombia also draw into aggressing, his cards remained firmly in his pocket. Half-time was reached without any goals, more surprising was that there hadn’t been any bookings either, given the 19 fouls.
The game grew tenser in the second half, with Colombia less willing to fling men forward and Peru retaining their defensive structure. While it became a grey affair, the fans provided the colour in the stands of New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium.
Colombian duo Juan Cuadrado (Left)speaks with his teammate Carlos Sanchez (right) during the first half
The Real Madrid midfielder lies on the pitch in agony and had to be stretchered off for a few moments
From the parking lot barbecues and DIY discos to the balloons being batted around during the game, both Colombia and Peru fans dazzled—an area where at times the tournament has suffered because of large stadiums which didn’t sell out.
This match was, and even though there were patches of empty seats, presumably from fans of other countries like Brazil or the USA who thought they might have been in this game, they were barely noticeable.
Peru manager Ricardo Gareca (Right) and Colombia boss Jose Pekerman speak before the match
Colombia’s footballers pose before the Copa America quarter-final on Friday in East Rutherford
Rather like the two teams in the second period, cancelling each other out, most chances stopped before they developed into true opportunities.
Peru had a last-gasp chance in stoppage time, with Ramos’s header tipped over well by Ospina, who went on to be the hero in the shoot-out.
Reaching penalties after 90 minutes was something it seemed Peru would have been happy with from the start—but they certainly weren’t happy by the end.
Colombia live to fight another day, but will need to create more and finish better when they take on either Chile or Mexico in Chicago next week.