The last time Peru made it to a Copa America final was in 1975, where they defeated Colombia. Peru had little to no expectations ahead of Copa America 2019. Despite having a decent showing at the World Cup the previous year, they were eliminated in the group stage. The competition for them is naturally high, as they aim to compete with the likes of Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Argentina and Chile. In such an environment, it is possible to be a truly great team without being the second, third or even fourth best. However, in 2019 Peru ended up surpassing that.
A Retrospective View of Copa America 2019
Peru’s Group Stage Performance
Their tournament started in quite boring fashion, drawing 0-0 against Venezuela. However, in the next game, Peru proved they could score goals when they defeated Bolivia 3-1 with three different goalscorers. Peru had essentially guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals at this point. They had nothing to play for heading into their final group game against the hosts Brazil. Although they advanced to the knockout phases, they were demolished 5-0 by the Seleção.
Quarter-Final Upset Against Uruguay
Their first knockout game opponents were the mighty Uruguay team that had defeated the reigning Copa America champions Chile in the group stage, as well as destroying Ecuador 4-0.
Uruguay had the upper hand for pretty much all of the game, having four times as many shots as Peru. The Peruvians could not find a single shot on target for the entirety of the game. However, they still managed to take the match to penalties, though. Luis Suarez stepped up to take the first penalty for Uruguay. He looked quite nervous on the run-up, meaning the penalty was far from perfect. Subsequently, his effort was saved with ease by Peru’s goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. Everyone else scored their penalties and Peru ended up winning the shootout 5-4, meaning they had made it to the semi-finals. However, the reigning Copa America champions Chile awaited them.
Semi-Final Shock Against Chile
Chile had also made it to the semi-finals on the back of a penalty shootout win in the quarter-finals, and they had picked up two wins in the group stages against Japan and Ecuador. As a result, Chile were the overwhelming favourites.
However, you would not have been able to guess that by looking at the actual game. It was a completely rejuvenated Peru that created many chances and managed to win 3-0. It’s worth pointing out Chile had more than twice the amount of shots, but the defending champions had been knocked out, and Peru had made it to a Copa America final for the first time since 1975. Brazil awaited them in the final, as they sought revenge for their 5-0 defeat earlier in the tournament.
Brazil’s Road to the Final
Other than beating Peru, Brazil also defeated Bolivia 3-0 and drew 0-0 against Venezuela. Just like Peru, they won in the quarter-finals after a goalless draw. However, they also found a way of making scoring look easy in the semi-finals, as they defeated Argentina 2-0 with relative ease.
Brazil’s way to the final was not without its controversies, however, with some extremely questionable refereeing decisions favouring Brazil. Despite these controversies, though, Brazil showed why they were the tournament favourites.
Copa America 2019 Final
Brazil broke the deadlock after 15 minutes with a goal from Everton Soares, but the game remained even, and in the 44th minute Peru equalised with a penalty from Paolo Guerrero. Gabriel Jesus put the hosts ahead in the last minute of the first half, dampening the spirits of their opponents.
However, the game was far from lost for Peru. They headed into the second half with a sense of optimism that they could turn the game around and secure their second ever Copa America title. Peru fought courageously, but despite Gabriel Jesus being sent off in the 70th minute, they couldn’t find the equaliser. A 90th minute penalty for the hosts sealed the win for the hosts.
Copa America 2019 – A Tale of Two Triumphs
Brazil were champions for the first time in 12 years. However, it was arguably an even bigger triumph for Peru, even though they lost in the final. They had come into the tournament expecting absolutely nothing yet appeared in a final for the first time in 44 years. The 2019 Copa America was a triumph for both Brazil and Peru.
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