Pizarro rescues Peru, Uruguay also advance
By Brian Homewood
PUERTO LA CRUZ, July 3 (Reuters) -
Peru's Claudio Pizarro scored a late equaliser to salvage a 2-2 draw against Bolivia on Tuesday, a result that carried his side into the quarter-finals of the Copa America along with Venezuela and Uruguay.
Hosts Venezuela had already qualified the previous night thanks to a favourable combination of results in Group C, but the point gained from their dire 0-0 draw with Uruguay ensured that they finished top of Group A.
Pizarro scored twice in the first match of the double header in Merida, including an 85th minute strike, as Peru denied their opponents a first Copa America victory since 1997.
Bolivia, who would have advanced at Peru's expense had they won, have now completed four tournaments without winning a match.
Uruguay, who qualified despite scoring only one goal in three games, barely ventured out of their own half as they got the point they needed in the second match.
The top two teams in the three first-round groups qualify for the last eight along with the two best third-placed sides, a format which turns the final group stage matches into a complex maths exercise.
Venezuela topped Group A on five points to take them beyond the opening round for the first time since entering the tournament in 1967.
Peru and Uruguay finished on four points apiece with Bolivia on two.
Peru took second spot on goal difference to set up a quarter-final against the Group C winners, either Paraguay or Argentina, on Sunday.
Paraguay and Argentina have already qualified following victories in their opening two matches along with Mexico from Group B.
Bolivia led Peru 2-1 at halftime thanks to a clever lob by Jaime Moreno and a close-range effort from Jhasmany Campos.
Pizarro equalised in between when he rose above the Bolivia defence to head in Juan Carlos Marino's free kick from the right.
Peru rarely threatened in the second half and had Joel Herrera sent off in the 77th minute for a second bookable offence, barely 20 minutes after coming on.
However, Pizarro rescued his side when he headed in another Marino free kick with five minutes remaining.
"This team has to improve," Peru coach Julio Cesar Uribe told reporters.
"Some players are not playing well enough to make this squad as good as it is capable of being. We are going to keep improving for the future."
Bolivia coach Erwin Sanchez, whose team was the first to go home, saw his team's performance as an improvement on previous efforts.
"Nobody thrashed us, nobody walked all over us," said Sanchez, whose side tend to play better at home in La Paz at high altitude.
"I'm proud of my players, proud of the job each one has done."
Venezuela and Uruguay then produced the Copa's first goalless draw and the worst match so far.
Neither team made much effort to win the game, although Venezuela pressed towards the end.
Curiously, the game was refereed by Brazil's Carlos Simon, who took charge of Argentina v Colombia in Maracaibo 24 hours earlier.
The South American Football Confederation (CSF) did not explain
why Simon was given two games so close together.