July 20 (Bloomberg) --Luis Suarez scored twice as Uruguay beat Peru 2-0 to reach the Copa America final, where it will try for a record 15th South American soccer championship.
Liverpool striker Suarez struck twice in five minutes shortly after halftime last night in La Plata, Argentina, to send Uruguay to the July 24 title game in Buenos Aires. Peru had Juan Vargas red-carded with 22 minutes remaining.
Two-time world champion Uruguay, which shares the record of 14 continental championships with archrival Argentina, will face Paraguay or first-time semifinalist Venezuela in the final.
“We must keep our feet on the ground,” Uruguay midfielder Alvaro Pereira told the Copa America’s website. “This team has demonstrated an amazing hunger for glory. Hopefully we can win this cup.”
Of the region’s top four teams in FIFA’s world rankings, only No. 18 Uruguay made the semifinals of the 12-nation tournament, following up its final-four appearance at last year’s World Cup in South Africa.
Uruguay ousted host Argentina in the quarterfinals in a penalty shootout, while Brazil’s bid to win its fifth title in the past six editions ended when it missed all four of its penalty attempts following a scoreless draw against Paraguay.
Suarez’s goals last night lifted Uruguay into its first final since 1999, when La Celeste, as the team is known, lost to Brazil. Uruguay’s most recent title came in 1995.
The Liverpool striker put Uruguay ahead in the 52nd minute, finishing from a narrow angle at the near post after Peru goalkeeper Raul Fernandez parried Diego Forlan’s long-distance shot. Television replays showed that Forlan’s 35-yard effort was going wide.
Suarez doubled the lead five minutes later after beating the offside trap. He ran onto Alvaro Pereira’s pass before going around Fernandez and rolling the ball into the unguarded net from just outside the penalty area.
It was Suarez’s third goal of the tournament, putting him atop the goal-scorers list alongside Argentina’s Sergio Aguero. Suarez also scored when Uruguay and Peru drew 1-1 in the group stage on July 4.
Peru’s chances of a comeback were dented in the 68th minute when Vargas was shown a straight red card for elbowing Uruguay defender Sebastian Coates. Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez took Suarez and Walter Gargano off three minutes later with both players having picked up a yellow card in the first half.
To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at firstname.lastname@example.org