Chile took neighborly bragging rights on Tuesday at the Copa America, winning their Pacifico clasico with Peru to top Group C, while Uruguay edged Mexico to book a quarter-final with hosts Argentina.
Four-time finalists Chile have been playing some of the best soccer at the championship and deservedly saw off two-time champions Peru — though it took an injury-time own-goal from Peru defender Andre Carrillo to settle the encounter at Mendoza.
Both sides went into the game with the pressure largely off as they had garnered four points from their opening two games to guarantee further progress.
A flare-up between Jean Beausejour of Chile and Peru’s Giancarlo Carmona proved a low point, both men sent off on the hour by Brazilian referee Salvio Fagundes — to the fury of Peru coach Sergio Markarian, who contested the wisdom of Fagundes.
“This is the same one who deprived Colombia of a legitimate win against Argentina,” Markarian said, referring to a penalty appeal denied Colombia when their forward Radamel Falcao Garcia felt he had a claim for a foul in the box.
Markarian was scathing about the red cards.
“Carmona did not deserve to be sent off — though Beausejour did. And that changed the game,” he said.
Beausejour apologized to his teammates afterward.
“I am sorry. There is no justification for what I did,” Beausejour said after starting the spat which saw him and Carmona head for an early bath.
Carmona was also contrite.
“I feel responsible for the defeat,” he said.
Meanwhile, Uruguay snapped out of their insipid early tournament form with Alvaro Pereira netting on the quarter-hour against Mexico at La Plata following an error by Mexico goalkeeper Luis Michel.
Veteran Uruguay striker Diego Forlan ran the show, having a hand in the goal, while winning a record-equaling 79th cap for his country to go level with former goalkeeper Rodolfo Rodriguez.
Another two goals and Forlan, whose last strike in sky blue came in the World Cup third-place playoff loss to Germany a year ago, will also share the national scoring record with Hector Scarone, who netted 31 times between 1920 and 1930.
Saturday’s quarter-final against renascent, Lionel Messi-inspired Argentinia, will be eagerly anticipated as both the hosts and Uruguay have won a joint record 14 continental titles.
The celeste also are the only team in 95 years of the tournament to deny Argentina victory on the home front — Argentina have won six out of eight events they have hosted, but came a cropper to their near neighbors on the other two occasions, back in 1916 and 1987.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said he is looking forward to the encounter.
“But it will be a very tough hurdle for us. It will be do or die and now the tournament is really beginning in earnest,” Tabarez said .
The duel will take place at the Santa Fe stadium nicknamed the “Elephants’ Graveyard,” scene of numerous domestic shocks in Argentine soccer.
Meanwhile, Mexico go home with zero points after electing to come here with essentially an under-22 team, the seniors having a rest after winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup last month.
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