East Rutherford, United States: Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina was the hero as Colombia slayed their penalty shoot-out jinx to defeat Peru and advance to the semi-finals of the Copa America Centenario here Friday.
Ospina pulled off a superb save deep into injury time to deny Peru a goal before saving a spot-kick from Peru defender Miguel Trauco in the shoot-out to clinch a nailbiting win for Colombia.
A largely disappointing quarter-final in front of 79,194 fans at East Rutherford´s MetLife Stadium was settled in penalties after the two sides finished 90 minutes deadlocked at 0-0.
After Colombia drilled their first three penalties, the tide turned in their favor when Trauco saw his effort blocked by Ospina.
Sebastian Perez then scored Colombia´s fourth penalty to put his 4-2 up and when Peru´s Christian Cueva blasted his spot-kick over the bar Colombia were through.
Victory was especially sweet for Colombia, who had exited the competition last year at the same stage to Argentina.
They will now play either Mexico or Chile in the semi-finals in Chicago next Wednesday.
“Sometimes you win sometimes you lose, and today luck was on our side in the penalties,” Colombia´s James Rodriguez said.
“Our goal was to get into the semi-finals at least and we´ve done that. Now we want to win the title,” the Real Madrid star added.
Goalkeeper Ospina said he believed Colombia could reach the June 26 final.
“I contributed my bit, and we want to keep going from here,” Ospina said. “We can get to the final. The semi will be tough regardless of whoever we face.”
The tone for a niggly encounter was set in the first 18 minutes, which saw no fewer than 11 fouls committed, mostly coming from Peru.
The stop-start nature of the contest hampered Colombia´s attempts to build momentum and made for a mostly frustrating half for the talented 2014 World Cup quarter-finalists.
Carlos Bacca was the first to threaten the Peru goal, but his shot from a tight angle after seven minutes hit the post.