THE PENALTY PHASE Colombia outlasts Peru in a shootout to reach Copa semis
By Michael Lewis BigAppleSoccer.com Editor
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Colombia qualified for the semifinals of Copa America Centenario Friday night, defeating Peru in a shootout, 4-2, after playing to a scoreless draw at MetLife Stadium.
Goalkeeper David Ospina made a kick save on Miguel Trauco's penalty-kick attempt on the Peruvians' third try before Christian Cueva booted his effort over the crossbar before a crowd of 79,194.
James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, Dayro Moreno and Sebastian Perez converted penalty kicks for the Colombians.
Raul Ruidiaz and Renato Tapia put their attempts away for Peru.
The Colombians will play the winner of Saturday's Mexico-Chile game in Santa Clara, Calif., in Chicago Wednesday.
The Colombians controlled play in the early stages of the first half, but had very little to show for their efforts.
Their best scoring opportunities came within seconds of one another in the 22nd minute. Rodriguez blasted a 23-yard drive off the right post. The rebound came to Carlos Bacca, who smashed his attempt into the left side netting.
As the half wore on, Peru found its rhythm and forced the issue on its foes, but could not get a decent shot off to make the defense or Ospina sweat.
In other words, neither team could place a shot on target.
It seemed the teams' medical staffs were on the field more than the teams taking substantial shots on goal.
Colombia's worked on Daniel Torres, who hit his head on the ground after colliding with Peru's Cristian Zapata in the 22nd minute.
Peru's medical team was called on when Tapia apparently suffered a left shoulder injury when he was accidentally elbowed by Farid Diaz in the 37th minute.
Both players resumed playing.
Colombia finally became the first side to actually force the opposing goalkeeper to make a save as Peru's Pedro Gallese had no trouble handling Bacca's meek one-bounce in the 55th minute.
Three minutes later, the Colombians took the medical staff lead, 2-1, as Carlos Sanchez needed some assistance after he was whacked in the head by the ball. He got up and continued playing.
A good portion of the rest of the half resulted in midfield play and attempts at taking a shot on goal rather than at goal, but most of those tries proved fruitless.
Regulation almost had a dramatic finish as Ospina parried Christian Ramos' header off of Christian Cueva's corner kick over the crossbar two minutes into stoppage time.