LA PLATA - Striker Paolo Guerrero scored
a hat-trick as Peru crushed 10-man Venezuela 4-1 to take third
place at the Copa America on Saturday.
William Chiroque put Peru ahead from Guerrero's pass three
minutes before half-time and the striker nicknamed "Predator"
rammed home the second in the 64th and two more in added-time.
"Third place is very good, I'm very proud of this team,"
Guerrero told a TV reporter before the medals ceremony.
"I'm a forward and I have to score goals, I work for the
team. For me it's more important that the team wins," Guerrero
said after becoming top scorer at the tournament with five
Peru, who began the tournament as outsiders but improved
with each match while favourites Argentina, Brazil and Chile
fell by the wayside, contributed to one of the best matches.
"Peru played a much better match than us. Peru were a great
team that knew how to take advantage of our mistakes," said
Venezuela's coach Cesar Farias.
Venezuela, who had midfielder Tomas Rincon sent off on the
hour for a dangerous tackle on Carlos Lobaton, pulled a goal
back when midfielder Juan Arango poked home in the 79th minute
at the end of a counter-attack.
Four minutes later Venezuela, also outsiders at the start of
the tournament, could have equalised when Peru goalkeeper Raul
Fernandez was unable to hold Arango's fierce free-kick but left-back Gabriel Cichero put the rebound just outside the post.
With Venezuela committed to trying to equalise, Guerrero hit
them with two more goals in late breakaways, showing great
control and exquisite finishing in both to cement his place as
one of the best strikers of the competition.
Nippy forward Chiroque could have scored in the 27th minute
but goalkeeper Renny Vega blocked his shot from a tight angle
when a pass to the unmarked Paulo Cruzado would have been the
However, Guerrero helped break the deadlock before the
interval when he exchanged passes with midfielder Cruzado before
crossing from the right to the far post where Chiroque steered
the ball home past the committed Vega.
Peru's second and Guerrero's first goal came soon after
Venezuela were left with 10 men when he took Chiroque's pass and
calmly measured his shot into the roof of the net.
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