Mon, Jul 19, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Argentina advances past hosts Peru


Cristian Gonzalez of Argentina fights for the ball with Nolberto Solano of Peru during their quarterfinals match during the Copa America, in Chiclayo, Peru, Saturday.


Argentina eliminated host Peru 1-0 in Saturday's quarterfinals and will try to end defending champion Colombia's 10-match unbeaten streak since 2001 at the Copa America.

Colombia easily dispatched Costa Rica 2-0 on first-half goals by Abel Aguilar and Tressor Moreno at Trujillo, and will tackle Argentina in the first semifinal on Tuesday at Lima.

Brazil will meet Mexico, followed by Paraguay versus Uruguay, in Sunday's quarterfinals to decide the other semifinal on Wednesday. The final is next Sunday.

It took the inspired substitution of Carlos Tevez for Argentina to pass host Peru 1-0, in a tale of free kicks.

Only three minutes after entering the match at packed Elias Aguirre Stadium, Tevez bent an unstoppable free kick inside the left corner of the goal in the 61st minute.

"I hit it like I always do and fortunately it went in," said Tevez.

But when Peru received a free kick also straight out in front four minutes later, Nolberto Solano's attempt hit the crossbar.

"It was a game that either team could have won," said Peru coach Victor Zegarra. "We just couldn't score. We played as well as Argentina did the entire match."

Tevez, only 20, has dominated the Argentine league for the last 18 months, leading Boca Juniors to the Copa Libertadores championship and the Intercontinental Cup, and urging many to wonder why national coach Marcelo Bielsa waited until last month to start the 2003 Latin American player of the year.

But Bielsa's decision to insert Tevez for Andres D'Alessandro on Saturday was perfectly timed. After Tevez's shot beat goalkeeper Oscar Ibanez, he pumped his arms in the air to celebrate as teammates raced over to hug him.

Bielsa said he initially second-guessed the substitution.

"I hesitated but finally decided to make the change ... and [Tevez] went in and scored," he said.

The Argentines played the final minutes a man down after Roberto Ayala was expelled for excessive yellow cards in the 82nd minute.

Both teams started slowly in an uneven first half that saw Argentina dominate possession against a determined Peruvian team cheered on by a capacity 25,000-strong crowd in this northern coastal city.

Ayala had a chance to give Argentina the lead in the 25th off a corner kick, but his header from just inside the penalty area sailed wide.

The Peruvian attack came to life with around 15 minutes left in the half. But Roberto Palacios failed to finish off a pass from Andres Mendoza in front of the goal in the 35th.

Mendoza then had a chance of his own three minutes later, but sent a soft, rolling shot that goalkeeper Roberto Abbondazieri easily handled.

After the break, Argentina kept up the pressure and threatened first.

In the 57th, Luciano Figueroa -- with three Peruvian defenders nearby -- nailed the post with a header on a centering pass from Javier Zanetti.

Then Peru midfield star Solano hit the post on his free kick after Juan Pablo Sorin was called for a foul. Solano set up another scoring chance four minutes later, finding a slashing Palacios, whose shot shaved the wrong side of the left post.

Peru played without three of its top players: Strikers Jefferson Farfan (suspended) and Flavio Maestri (injured), and captain Claudio Pizarro (injured).

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