Colombia qualified for the semi-finals of the centenary Copa America with a 4-2 penalty shootout win over Peru in New Jersey on Friday.
The game finished in a 0-0 stalemate after 90 minutes and went straight to spot kicks as Colombia held their nerve in front of a crowd exceeding 82,000 and advanced to the last four of the competition.
Colombia’s Argentine coach Jose Pekerman breathed a sigh of relief after his side were frustrated throughout by the Peruvians who were buoyed by their recent elimination of Brazil in the group stage.
Coach Jose Pekerman opted to restore most of the players who were rested for the 3-2 defeat to Costa Rica in the final group game with Carlos Sanchez the only player to keep his place, partnering Daniel Torres in midfield.
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca, meanwhile, only made the one change, with Renato Tapia coming in for Adan Balbin.
The early exchanges were dominated by the Colombians with the fearsome attacking trio of Juan Cuadrado, James Rodriguez and Edwin Cardona prominent.
Colombia came the closest to opening the scoring when captain James Rodriguez cut through the Peruvian defense in the 21st minute only to see his right-footed strike ricochet off the post with Real Madrid man hitting the side net from the rebound.
While Colombia looked most likely to score the opener, a disciplined and resolute Peruvian defense stifled them as both sides entered the interval deadlocked at 0-0 following a first half that was marred by 19 fouls.
The second half continued in similar fashion with Colombia continuing to attack but failing to create any real goal scoring chances mainly due to excellent defending from Peru.
Colombia’s inability to find the decisive pass in the final third resulted in the starvation of Carlos Bacca who was spearheading the attack.
Bacca had the best chance of the half approaching the 80th-minute mark after being played in by a ball over the top of Peru’s defense, but he failed to make contact on the shot.
Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina produced a magnificent tournament saving stop from Christian Ramos in the dying moments to send the game to penalties.
Team captain James Rodriguez set Colombia on their way in the shootout netting the first with further spot kicks converted by Juan Cuadrado and Dayro Moreno leaving it all square at 3 a-piece.
Atletico Nacional’s Sebastian Perez slotted home a fourth as David Ospina produced a stunning save to deny Peru’s Miguel Trauco, before Christian Cueva blazed his penalty over the bar to seal the elimination of the Peruvians.
Colombia will now await the winners of Saturday’s quarter-final between Chile and Mexico for a last four showdown in Chicago on Wednesday as they seek to advance to the final for the first time since 2004.