AFP/Porto Alegre, Brazil
Ten-man Venezuela held on following the dismissal of Luis Mago to claim a 0-0 draw with Peru, who had two goals chalked off by VAR, in their opening Copa America match on Saturday night. The point left the two sides joint second in Group A behind hosts Brazil, who kicked off the tournament on Friday night with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Bolivia. Peru had the better of the match at a near empty Gremio Arena in Porto Alegre but were twice denied victory after offside decisions taken following consultation with the video assistant referee. “It was a difficult game, we knew it would be tough, Venezuela have improved a lot,” said Peru defender Carlos Zambrano.
As expected for an early tournament match it was a cagey affair, although Venezuela’s Wuilker Farinez got the pulses racing at times with some erratic goalkeeping, although he also made two crucial saves. “It’s an important draw, it’s a shame that we couldn’t win but that’s football, we’ve got to keep going,” said Farinez, who has attracted interest from Spanish giants Barcelona, according to some press reports.
“This draw is very valuable for us and now we have to correct the details before facing Brazil,” said the 21-year-old. Peru had the ball in the net after just seven minutes when Farinez came for and spilled an inswinging free-kick from Yoshimar Yotun, allowing Christofer Gonzales to fire the rebound past a posse of defenders.
But the goalkeeper’s blushes were saved by VAR. Christian Cueva dragged a shot wide for Peru in a two-on-one counter attack while Venezuela’s Yangel Herrera miscontrolled a cross when clean through with only goalkeeper Pedro Gallese to beat in a half of few clear-cut chances.
The pace of Jhon Murillo on Venezuela’s left was causing Peru problems and Renato Tapia was booked for bringing him down, but Gallese beat clear Jefferson Savarino’s shot from the resulting free-kick. Farinez redeemed himself with a diving save to keep out a Paolo Guerrero free-kick, but then spilled the resulting corner and watched thankfully as Tomas Rincon blocked Luis Abram’s follow up.
After the break, Venezuela’s Salomon Rondon sent a fizzing free-kick inches wide. Peru had the ball in the net a second time on 63 minutes through Jefferson Farfan but it was again chalked off by VAR for offside.
The game sparked into life in the final quarter hour when Mago was sent off after picking up a second yellow card for a reckless foul. Farinez then came to his side’s rescue, flinging himself backwards to claw a shot from substitute Edison Flores off his line. “Their goalkeeper is a great goalkeeper, he stopped a lot,” said Zambrano. Peru were turning the screw but Farinez saved from Flores again and Jefferson Farfan headed wide from close range.
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