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, which upset Colombia in its opening match, was in command until defender Fernando Amorebieta was sent off on a straight red card in the 29th 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. On Sunday in the final Group C matches, Colombia plays Peru and Brazil faces Venezuela.
Venezuela controlled the early play as Peru had trouble getting out of its own end. Venezuela’s Salomon Rondon was through on goal in the 7th 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 man 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 was successfully running time off the clock as Venezuela never really threatened.