A 72nd-minute goal by veteran striker Claudio Pizarro gave Peru a 1-0 victory over 10-man Venezuela on Thursday, leaving the four teams of Group C in the Copa America exactly even going into the last games of the round-robin stage.
The Bayern Munich forward scored on a left-footed shot that was tipped by Venezuela goalkeeper Alain Baroja, but still went in off the underside of the crossbar.
“It was an important goal to be able to think about advancing,” Pizarro said. “That’s why I’m excited. Besides, scoring a goal for the national team is important.”
Venezuela, who upset Colombia in their opening match, were in command until defender Fernando Amorebieta was sent off on a straight red card in the 29th minute for stomping on the leg of Peru’s Paolo Guerrero.
All four teams in Group C — Brazil, Peru, Venezuela and Colombia — are level on points and goal difference. In the final Group C matches tomorrow, Colombia face Peru, while Brazil are to play Venezuela.
Venezuela controlled the early play as Peru had trouble getting out of their own half. Venezuela’s Salomon Rondon was through on goal in the seventh minute, but shot directly at goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. Teammate Alejandro Guerra also had early chances.
The sending off of Amorebieta by referee Raul Orosco changed the complexion. There is no doubt Amorebieta stomped on Guerrero, but it was not clear it was intentional.
“We were in charge of the match and with 11 the result might not have been the same,” Venezuela midfielder Tomas Rincon said. “It’s tough playing a man short for so long.”
That turned the heat up and changed the match, though Peru mounted little sustained attack in the first half despite the advantage.
Peru’s attack threatened early in the second half, with Pizarro and Guerrero looping early headers over the crossbar.
After Pizarro scored, Peru kept more possession and ran time off the clock as Venezuela never really threatened.
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