RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Peru beat Paraguay 4-3 on penalties on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the Copa América in the most exciting match of the tournament so far.
Regulation time at the Goiania Olympic Stadium ended 3-3 after a close match that included red cards for key players from both teams and two goals from Italy’s Gianluca Lapadula for Peru.
The decisive moment in the quarterfinals came after Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese stopped Alberto Espinola on penalties. Miguel Trauco converted his shot to challenge the Copa América 2019 runner-up again.
Daniel Martínez and Braian Samudio had also failed for Paraguay. Santiago Ormeno and Christian Cueva were arrested by Antony Silva from Paraguay.
“This was an incredible match,” Lapadula said wearily after the penalty shoot-out, in which he converted from the penalty spot. “We cannot choose opponents, we have to think that we are in the semi-final. Now we have to work to get there well. ”Peru will face Brazil or Chile, who also play on Friday.
Paraguay opened the scoring in the 11th minute with Gustavo Gómez pushing the ball into the empty net after a corner kick.
Lapadula scored his first at 21 from close range after an assist from Andre Carrillo. He added another in the 40th minute with a cross shot from the left wing after Paraguayan defenders stopped to complain about a foul.
The Peruvians seemed confident they would advance after taking the lead and Paraguayan defender Gomez was sent off in additional time after a second yellow card.
But Paraguay started the second half well and put pressure on Peru. Junior Alonso tied the score in the 54th minute after burying Gallese after a corner kick. And the opportunities kept coming, especially around the curves.
Peruvian Yoshimar Yotun frustrated the Paraguayans with a goal from the edge of the area 80 minutes after the ball was deflected from a Paraguayan defender. But more twists would come.
Five minutes later, Peruvian striker Andre Carrillo also received his second yellow card. Paraguay decided to charge forward and resulted in a late goal from close range by substitute Gabriel Avalos – who had intervened eight minutes earlier – to level the game and send it to penalties.
Peru advanced to the semifinals after Lapadula, Yotun, Renato Tapia and Trauco scored on penalties.
Peru wants to play its Copa América semifinal on Monday at the Nilton Santos Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. They lost 4-0 in the group stage of the tournament to Brazil, one of their possible semi-final rivals.