The South American World Cup qualification carried on with this clash in the Peruvian capital. The hosts had already featured once, in that 2-1 loss in Bolivia the previous Sunday. As for group favourites Uruguay, this was their opening qualifier. They had come close to snatching their second successive continental title only the previous month, but ultimately succumbed to a Brazilian winning goal in the final match of the second group stage. Peru would need to up their performance from La Paz, whereas the Uruguayans would be looking to their strong contingent of European based stars to carve out a result in Lima.
Peru team news
Since the 2-1 defeat in La Paz the previous weekend, Peru supremo José Macia had made no less than five squad changes: 12 from the party of 16 which had travelled to the Bolivian capital were still present, while captain Jorge Olaechea, midfielder Fidel Suárez, as well as appearing substitutes Jesús Torrealba and Eduardo Rey Muñoz, had all been left out for whatever reasons.
Peru had been second best for the majority of the game in Bolivia, and it had not come as a surprise that there were squad tweaks. However, in particular midfielder Suárez had been influental, though with the highly experienced Julio César Uribe back in the squad, it was perhaps no great mystery that the Universitario de Deportes ace had to give way. Were they not both typical playmakers looking to influence the game from a left-handed or central left position? Olaechea had played in the libero role last week, in Peru’s back four, and his absence also appeared a little peculiar to outsiders looking in.
Into the squad had come Alianza Atlético’s defender Pedro Sanjínez, Uribe, and forwards Carlos Torres and Martín Dall’Orso, representing Internazionale (San Borja) and Sporting Cristal respectively. The addition of some extra firing power had possibly been a result of Peru looking particularly lightweight up top in their previous outing and this being a home tie. A home tie which they were forced to win were they to remain in contention for a World Cup berth.
Did ‘Pepe’ have it in him to tinker with the Peruvian formation, or was he simply a 4-4-2 kind of manager?
Uruguay team news
Óscar Tabárez had very much a settled squad, and in their recent Copa América run, which had lasted seven matches, and where they’d only lost the cup in the final second stage group game against hosts Brazil by a single goal, they’d been utilising the same starting eleven for their final five matches. Tabárez had proved himself to be a fan of the 4-3-3 formation, where the more central among the three strikers would drop back and act as a ‘false 9’. This role belonged to the superb team captain Enzo Francescoli, one of the game’s biggest stars, who was enjoying life on the French south coast with the country’s leading club Marseille.
15 of the 16 players in Tabárez’ matchday squad for this their opening World Cup qualifier had featured in their Copa América band, too. The only player to come into the group since then was 35 year old goalkeeper Eduardo Pereira, who was playing abroad in Argentina with Independiente. He replaced Nacional’s Jorge Seré. Pereira had played in Uruguay’s solitary friendly post the Copa, when he’d kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw at home to Ecuador. A couple of the regular names had been missing then (Perdomo, Francescoli), with midfield playmaker Rubén Paz most likely having been moved forward into Francescoli’s deep centre-forward role. Tenerife ‘keeper Javier Zeoli had been his country’s first choice since May and right through the continental championships. Who would the manager choose on this occasion?
Uruguay were built on a very solid defensive foundation, though thanks to some exceptional individual talent among their more forward players, they were well capable of conjuring up moments of attacking brilliance, too. Peru, who had proved vulnerable only a week earlier, could turn out to be a fitting opponent at the start of the qualification.
Issued with the referee’s whistle was 47 year old Argentinian Carlos Espósito. He was a vastly experienced gentleman, and had first travelled outside of his country’s boundaries in order to officiate back in March ’79, when he’d run the rule over the Copa Libertadores group stage match between Nacional (Uruguay) and Técnico Universitario (Ecuador). Already later that same year, he’d refereed three matches, including one of the semi-finals, in the 1979 Copa América.
Espósito would continue to exhibit himself abroad: He’d be in charge of World Cup qualifiers both ahead of Spain ’82 and Mexico ’86, and he’d even got to officiate in two ties in the 1986 tournament proper: The group stage game between hosts Mexico and Belgium (2-1), as well as the round of 16 clash between Italy and France, his highest profile game to date.
22-9-9 were the stats in visiting Uruguay’s favour prior to the game. In this the two countries’ 41st ever clash, they were head to head in World Cup qualification for only the third time. Ahead of the 1966 tournament in England, Uruguay had defeated the Peruvians both home and away, and the pair had next met some eight months prior to the 1982 Spain tournament. Peru had won in Montevideo, with a player who was still a likely starting candidate the visitors’ matchwinner: Julio César Uribe scored the second goal in Peru’s 2-1 win. Two Uruguayans also remained from that clash eight years earlier: Defender Hugo de León and midfield man Rubén Paz.
Peru and Uruguay had indeed met in the inaugural World Cup, when the Uruguayans had ultimately triumphed on home soil. The group stage game had ended in a 1-0 home win.
There had also been some Copa América face-offs, predominantly in the 40s and 50s, whilst the 1983 tournament had seen Uruguay end their longest barren spell in these encounters: A 1-0 away win in Lima had ended a run of ten matches, stretching across 13 years, without a win over Peru.
Their most recent meeting had come in December ’88, when a Montevideo friendly had ended in a 3-0 win for Uruguay. Two goals from Enzo Francescoli and one from Sosa had seen the Peruvians off.
Situated right next to the José Díaz street, Peru’s national stadium has sometimes been refered to by the street name. There had been a tragedy taking place in and around the stadium in 1964, when Peru had hosted Argentina in a qualifying match for the Japan Olympics later the same year. A late disallowed goal for the hosts had sparked a rage, and events had ultimately led to 300 people losing their lives.
The stadium has an emblematic tower in its north curve (even to this day) named Miguel Dasso. The crowd capacity at the time was said to be around 45,000, and so, with the official attendance given in that size, it was pretty packed for the occasion of this their opening Italia ’90 qualifier. There were a few empty spots in the northern curve front.
|1 Jesús Purizaga||29||Sporting Cristal|
|3 Juan Reynoso||19||Alianza Lima|
|5 Pedro Requena||28||Universitario de Deportes|
|6 José Carranza||25||Universitario de Deportes|
|8 José del Solar||21||Universitario de Deportes|
|9 Franco Navarro||27||Unión de Santa Fe|
|10 Julio César Uribe (c)||31||América de Cali|
|11 Jorge Hirano||sub 72′||33||Bolívar|
|12 Jorge Arteaga||22||Sporting Cristal|
|14 Percy Olivares||21||Sporting Cristal|
|19 Martín Dall’Orso||22||Sporting Cristal|
|2 Pedro Sanjínez||23||Alianza Atlético|
|7 Francesco Manassero||on 72′||23||Sporting Cristal|
|13 Wilmer Valencia||27||Blooming|
|23 Carlos Torres||23||Internazionale San Borja|
|22 Gustavo Gonzáles||25||Sporting Cristal|
|1 Eduardo Pereira||35||Independiente|
|2 Nelson Gutiérrez||27||Hellas Verona|
|3 Hugo de León||31||River Plate|
|4 José Herrera||24||Figueres|
|5 José Perdomo||24||Genoa|
|6 Alfonso Domínguez||23||Peñarol|
|7 Antonio Alzamendi||33||Logroñés|
|8 Santiago Ostolaza||sub 80′||27||Nacional|
|9 Enzo Francescoli (c)||27||Olympique Marseille|
|10 Rubén Paz||sub 76′||30||Genoa|
|11 Rubén Sosa||23||Lazio|
|12 Javier Zeoli||27||Tenerife|
|13 Gabriel Correa||on 80′||21||Peñarol|
|14 Pablo Bengoechea||on 76′||24||Sevilla|
|15 José Pintos Saldanha||25||Nacional|
|17 Rubén da Silva||21||River Plate|
The Lima sky appeared a grey one this afternoon on the scene for visiting ‘la Celeste’s’ opening World Cup qualifier. That scarcely seemed to affect those who had turned out, and there was a big party-like atmosphere all around, with collective dancing in the north curve under the famous tower, and with confetti being thrown from high in the main stand onto those below, accompanied by plenty of sound.
There was a lot of commotion on the pitch in the minutes leading up to the kick-off, with press, security and other staff being present in the wake of the marching band’s execution of the respective national anthems. In other words: This was a South American qualifier about to unfold.
The two team captains, Peru’s highly experienced Julio César Uribe and Uruguay’s European based attacking star Enzo Francescoli, had met up in the centre-circle along with Argentinian referee Carlos Espósito, and winning the toss, Uribe let the visitors proceed with the kick-off. The Peruvians remained to the right as the cameras were looking. The kick-off itself was performed by two players who had graced the stage recently in the Copa América: Francescoli and the explosive Rubén Sosa.
It is difficult to suggest why the home side opted to remain playing into the wind, though on the difficult-looking pitch, which appeared quite uneven in the centre-circle and either side of it, they failed to find any rhythm early doors. Sure, they were up against quality opposition. Uruguay are big group favourites for a reason. And the hosts seemed to set off with a certain level of respect, as well as perhaps a few jitters owed to the fact that they need a result in order not to be out of the reckoning after two matches already. A minute in, defender José Carranza appears to not have communicated very well with his goalkeeper Jesús Purizaga, as the visitors tried a ball through the centre for Rubén Sosa to run on to. Rather than leaving it to his number 1, Carranza, who had far from played impressively at right-back in the 2-1 reverse in La Paz, got a touch, surprising his ‘keeper, and in the process even Sosa, leaving for the Universitario defender to mop up his own mistake.
Right from the word ‘go’, one could spot Peru’s cultured young midfield man José del Solar at the heart of their defence. He had notched their late first half goal in Bolivia, dispatching into the back of the net defender Pedro Requena’s square header following a Fidel Suárez free-kick into the area. Then, del Solar, the 23 year old of Universitario, one of the major Lima clubs, had performed in central midfield, whereas on this occasion, he had clearly been awarded a spare man in defence role. They were without the experienced Jorge Olaechea, who had captained them last time around, and maybe partly in making up for this, manager Pepe had switched to a five man defensive line.
Visiting Uruguay were looking to get their qualification campaign off with at least a draw. However, they soon enough displayed their superior individual talent, with their front players in particular showing how they were capable of taking on a man and leaving him for dead. The greatest exponents for this were undoubtedly Sosa and Francescoli, though in the busy and somewhat frenetic opening, they can’t quite take advantage.
La Celeste are built on a solid defensive foundation, and in the early stages, their two colossal centre-backs, Nelson Gutiérrez and Hugo de León, repel any attempt at breaking through the centre from the home side. With Peru being somewhat lightweight in the attacking department, something which had also been evident in Bolivia, the pair come into their stride immediately. In addition, the visitors have a couple of midfielders who are out to provide their defence with extra protection: Both José Perdomo and the tall, rugged Santiago Ostolaza add further physicality to their ranks, and it will certainly take something special from the Peruvians to break the visitors down.
A look through the Uruguayan select
It is a cautious, measured start to the game from the visitors, who certainly do not have a big desire to commit plenty of men forward at the same time. They have a safety first approach, perhaps offering the hosts the opportunity to display their capacity, before they turn it up a notch and take the game to Peru, as would not have been entirely unexpected.
Uruguay are in their by now well-known 4-3-3 formation. Between the sticks, they’ve put the highly experienced Eduardo Pereira for Javier Zeoli, who had kept goal throughout their Copa América campaign. It is difficult to say why Tabárez had suddenly opted for Pereira, who had even featured in their final friendly prior to the start of the World Cup qualification, as Zeoli had hardly made a fool of himself during the continental championships. 35 year old Pereira of Independiente in neighbouring Argentina had not racked up a high number of internationals. He was yet to reach double figures.
Among the four at the back was right-sided defender José Herrera, a 24 year old who had recently made the switch to Spain to feature for second tier club Figueres, following his stint with Montevideo’s Peñarol. Herrera was a full-back who was not afraid to venture forward, and he provided able support for their attackers. Opposite from him, in the left-back position, was Herrera’s former team mate at Peñarol Alfonso Domínguez. At 23, Domínguez was still a novice at this level, though a tenacious little player, he relied on pace and positioning to maintain control along his side defensively. He did not prove as attacking as Herrera on this occasion in Lima.
At the heart of the Uruguayan defence were the two big men already mentioned: Nelson Gutiérrez and Hugo de León. 27 year old Gutiérrez had completed a season in the Italian Serie A, arguably the strongest league in the world, and during the European summer, he’d made the switch from the capital, where he’d played for Lazio, to Verona. His partner de León had featured for a couple of the same clubs as Gutiérrez, such as Peñarol domestically and River Plate across the border in Argentina, though not at the same time. Still, they made up a fearsome duo at international level. In a relatively deep defensive line, they were both perfect fits with their aerial strength and ability to make interceptions. Uruguay’s back line was square, with none of the central defenders assuming a deeper position.
In midfield, I’ve already touched on the fact that two of the players were predominantly acting as protection in front of their defensive line. The pair were José Perdomo, who was sitting in the deeper, central role, and Santiago Ostolaza to his immediate right. The latter was about 6’3 tall, and he was indeed very useful at defensive set-pieces. Perdomo probably displayed a greater level of agility. Having completed six seasons with Peñarol, Perdomo, 24, was yet another among the growing Uruguayan Italy contingent, and indeed one of three who was going to feature for Genoa. A steady performer in the centre of the pitch, he was not someone who was looking to make the headlines, but he balanced the team very well through the protection which he offered.
The third midfielder was Rubén Paz, who, like Perdomo, had only recently signed for Genoa. Wearing the number 10 shirt, a number with a great deal of responsibility attached, he was appearing somewhat to the advanced left of the two others, often working along the left-sided channel. Paz, a left-footer, was combining well with Sosa ahead of him, and perhaps even working slightly in the shadow of a couple of his team mates, something which appeared to benefit him. He was a terrific passer of the ball, and was quite instrumental in quick transitions from defence to attack, often carrying the ball at pace, looking to release it at the right time.
Enzo Francescoli was clearly the major player in the side, and now at 27, he would be looking to take his career even a step further after his transfer to the star-studded Olympique Marseille team. He operated in a deep centre-forward role, often coming back into midfield, though making sure he did not step into Paz’ territory to the left, rather lending his undoubted qualities to central right areas. His position meant he was, in practice, a second playmaker, and capable of most things on a football pitch, he would provide fantastic assistance to the two forwards.
As for those forwards, both Sosa to the left and Antonio Alzamendi along the right were working wide. In fact, they at times resembled more wingers than forwards, though they did have the ability to cut inside and threaten the opposition’s goal directly. Sosa was, to an even greater extent than Paz, able to carry the ball at lightening pace, and if the opposition’s full-back could not get a tackle in early, he would often leave him for dead and burst to the byline for a cross or race directly in at goal and finish himself. Alzamendi, featuring for Seville in the Spanish top flight, had reached 33 years by now, but he still had plenty of pace, something which also made him a threat along his flank.
Approaching the halfway stage of the first 45, there is precious little to talk about in terms of goalmouth action. Until now, the two teams are doing a reasonable job in cancelling each other out, and one’s just waiting for either side to display a higher level of fluency in their collective moves.
Whereas Uruguay must accept their favourites tag, despite playing on foreign turf, it appears to be their reputation rather than their dazzling qualities which sees them have a slight upper hand in proceedings hitherto. They are well collected defensively, though they have yet to properly ignite inside the opposition’s half.
As for the Peruvians, they have looked enthusiastic, but there’s a distinct lack of attacking quality, both individually and as a unit. To break down a defence of Uruguay’s undoubted quality, they’ll need to produce more than just hopeful punts in the forward direction, as their forwards are too often pushed off the ball by the physically dominant visitors.
Looking closer at the hosts
There’s a few direct balls in the forward direction from the hosts, and typically, it is libero del Solar who provides the supposed ammunition. With formerly Swiss based striker Franco Navarro being the more robust among the most attack-minded home players, he’ll be the one they’ll look for, though his movement off the ball could be questioned. This is unlike his strike partner Martín Dall’Orso, who has the appearance of someone industrious, but who is too lightweight to make an impact.
In central midfield, Peru have the experienced Uribe, who certainly is a capable man in possession, though his legs appear somewhat gone, and he doesn’t have that flexibility which they could’ve wished for. Still, he’s quite instrumental; he’ll be the one they will go to whenever they wish to build through possession. At times, he’s playing a high risk game, such as when he’d managed to escape from a tight situation in the left-back position, only to see his forward pass just outside his own area snapped up by the opponents. Whilst it had not led to any severe danger then, the Peruvians can ill afford to give possession away inside their defensive third of the pitch.
In goal, the hosts have Jesús Purizaga, who had a fine game despite the loss last week. He even saved a first half penalty, and looked sound throughout. The 29 year old of Sporting Cristal would have to reach that level again for the hosts to secure a point or two.
Tactically, manager Pepe had switched things around a little. While they had been in a relatively straight forward 4-4-2 formation in La Paz, they were now working on the foundation of a 5-3-2 constellation. In Bolivia, Jorge Olaechea had provided depth in defence from his libero position, though in his absence this time around, the task has gone to José del Solar, who had been one of their better players in the loss. As one of two central midfielders last time around, del Solar had proved his worth with his fine close control and quality in passing, though he was not foreign to the libero job, which he had occupied even at club level.
Fielded alongside del Solar in the heart of the defence are Pedro Requena and José Carranza. The latter had been at right-back in Bolivia, and given a very indifferent performance then, playing his part in both penalty concessions. In a more central role, Carranza appears more confident, and with Paz attacking towards his areas, the Uruguayan number 10 is the player whom he will come into contact with the most. At times, Carranza needs to orientate himself towards the right, in order to assist the right-back with keeping tabs on Sosa.
Both centre-backs are Universitario players: 28 year old Requena had been pushed forward for every attacking set-piece in La Paz, and he’d provided the assist for their goal. He is possibly their strongest aerial asset, despite not being of such a commanding size. Last time around he had filled in alongside Olaechea, and on this occasion he is their left-sided alibi in the heart of their defence. With Uruguay featuring two wide forwards, Requena is seen pushing out from the central defensive area in order to approach Francescoli.
Jorge Arteaga occupies the right-back berth, though his role in the side is of a defensive nature; he’ll rarely provide assistance along the attacking right hand side. Facing Sosa directly, the Sporting Cristal man needs to be focused constantly, and since he’s clearly not as quick as the Lazio man, he’ll also be looking to have a head start in order not to be surpassed. To the left, Percy Olivares, who gave a sound impression in Bolivia, pushes forward when the opportunity’s there, and despite his tender years, he appears to be a full-back of decent quality. His job defensively is to attend to Alzamendi, and they’ll have some interesting tussles along the flank.
Peru’s midfield trio is made up of two holding players and one linking up with the two front men. Sitting bang in the centre are Julio César Uribe, arguably the team’s biggest name, and teenager Juan Reynoso, who had flattered to deceive in La Paz, in a right hand side which had completely failed the Peruvians. Working through the centre, though, the young Alianza Lima man seems much more confident. He has fine technical ability, and he also brings the legs which Uribe no longer has. Reynoso is a huge step up from last time out, and so his inclusion is clearly justified; Pepe seems to know what he’s doing. While they look to Uribe for distribution, Reynoso is the busier of the two, and certainly so when the hosts are out of possession.
Last weekend, Jorge Hirano, the 33 year old Bolivia based livewire, featured in a striker’s role, but on this occasion he has been shifted into an attacking midfield position. While the nippy forward appears to not always be switched on, he is capable of producing moments of magic due to his neat close control. However, he’s part of a small-sized attack force, and against a defence as robust as that of the Uruguayans, the total output is not significant.
Up top, Franco Navarro is the only Peruvian strong enough to fend off a challenge from the visitors’ defenders. Having recently moved to play in Argentinian football from his spell in Europe, the 27 year old is disappointingly stand-still, and despite being a target for del Solar’s long balls up from the back, he can not add any punch to their frontline or even hold the ball up and bring others into play. More is expected from Navarro, though he’s not alone, as his strike partner on this occasion, 22 year old Sporting Cristal player Martín Dall’Orso, is rarely seen at all, despite his wish to chase. Built in the same frame as Hirano, Dall’Orso has so far gone hiding, and certainly not represented any kind of threat to the Uruguayans whatsoever.
Visitors close to taking the lead
While there’s not a lot to talk about in terms of goalscoring opportunities during the first half, Uruguay arrive at a big chance to move ahead approaching 25 minutes. The Peruvian defence had so far managed to keep tight, though on this occasion they’re cut open by some enterprising running from Paz, who accepts a low pass from Sosa whilst in a central position, spins on the ball and leaves del Solar for dead as he makes it to the byline. Paz does the only right thing from there, which is angle a delievery towards the edge of the six yard area, and with Purizaga unable to reach the cross, the ‘keeper can only look behind in agony as Francescoli stoops to get to the ball with his head. Alas, it comes to him quite low, and despite the gaping goal, the Uruguayan primary playmaker can’t get his finish on target. The ball drifts half a yard over the crossbar.
Peru’s best spell yet
While the visitors remain the stronger side for most of the first half, there’s a few opportunities coming the Peruvians’ way towards the final few minutes. Firstly, they execute a clever free-kick after Navarro’s been fouled some 23-24 yards away from goal, somewhat to the left: Uribe spots a run from Hirano in behind the defensive wall, and despite the attention from Herrera, he manages to swing a cross into the centre, which Olivares connects with a header from. It is an effort angled towards the right hand post, though ultimately Pereira gets down low to hold on to the ball.
Shortly after, Gutiérrez plays his goalkeeper into trouble when he overhits a backpass. Dall’Orso is on hand to pick the ball up, though trapped near the byline and with the ‘keeper between him and the gaping goal, he can only square his finish parallel with the goalline, with the ball eventually rolling away from danger. Then this little spell of home pressure subsides after Reynoso’s low effort from 20 yards goes disappointingly wide left of the target. He had been closed down well by the Uruguayans at the edge of the area.
Through to half-time
The first half runs approximately a minute and 45 seconds into time added on, and while Peru had had their brief spell of creating some opportunities towards the end, it had been Uruguay who had generally had the better of the first period. They had looked more composed in midfield, where the presence of Perdomo and Ostolaza had allowed Paz time and space on the ball, looking to combine with Sosa ahead of him. This saw Arteaga, as the Peruvian right-sided defender, in need of assistance from the right-sided among the three centre-backs, Carranza, though they failed to produce clear-cut openings, Francescoli’s chance apart. As it were, a goalless first half was probably just.
No changes had been made from either side during the half-time interval, and the hosts lined up in order to proceed with kicking the second half into action. There was little noteworthy about midfield playmaker Uribe being stood next to striker Navarro on the ball in order to perform the kick-off, though oddly, there was the presence of aerially strong centre-back Requena next to them, suggesting that they could wish to take the visitors by surprise in the early stages. And as could’ve been guessed by that particular move, they were trying to lift it long in the direction of Requena once the final 45 minutes had got under way. It hadn’t succeeded, though, as the ball forward had not been aimed very well once Requena had sprinted ahead. Instead, Uribe picked the ball up and made advance through the centre, only to be cynically hacked down by de León, with the centre-back fortunate to escape a booking.
Visitors open the scoring
The second half is less than two minutes old as Uruguay take the lead. Purizaga attempts a big throw towards the halfway line on the left, where he has spotted Hirano. However, right-back Herrera makes an excellent interception, and his solitary touch sees the ball travel to Alzamendi, who has plenty of time and space, and who threads a lovely pass through for Sosa, who’s made a perfect run into the area. Before Arteaga can get close enough to put a tackle in, Sosa has struck with his right foot, with the ball travelling emphatically and low into the back of the net. All of Peru’s sound work late in the first half was undone following a couple of sloppy moments inside their own half.
In the wake of the goal, Uruguay’s game plan becomes more evident: They retract somewhat deeper in the pitch, opting to soak up whatever the hosts can throw at them and then exploit the pace they have on the break. This appears to be a good idea, as stifling the hosts’ attacks rarely challenges the Uruguayans. They have that almost impenetrable central defensive pairing of Gutiérrez and de León, who both easily fend off aerial challenges from whenever a ball is aimed long towards the Peruvian strikers. Usually, this is from the boot of libero del Solar.
Uruguay are also unconcerned that Peru have the majority of possession. It is all part of their tactics. Granted, the home side have a couple of technically skilled players, where Uribe and Hirano are probably the most prominent. Both display fine close range ability, though they fail to use their attributes to enhance their collective efforts. Individually, they become food for the Uruguayan defensive trap. It is difficult to see how they’re going to unlock this visiting defence, especially as forward passes often lack in precision.
The idea at hitting the hosts on the break almost comes to fruition on 55 minutes, when Sosa had accelerated and skipped past an attempted tackle by del Solar midway through the Peruvian half. He had looked odds-on to go on and test Purizaga at least, though he’d been unbalanced slightly by the libero’s tackle, and so Sosa had ultimately not been able to inject any power into his shot from inside the 18 yard area, with Olivares coming across to close him down. Peru were living dangerously, though even a solitary point was hardly ideal to their plight, and so they had to throw caution to the wind in a desperate attempt at clawing their way back from a goal down.
Uruguay are clearly accepting this calculated risk of allowing the hosts to enjoy plenty of possession. The visitors rely on their sturdy defence to bail them out. While the centre-backs have nullified the potential threat from the Peru strikers, full-backs Herrera and Domínguez are keeping their respective flanks intact, too. They close off the avenues of passing, and the hosts must conjure up something more imaginative than they have been so far. Perhaps a change in personnel is imminent?
For all of Peru’s neat and tidy play in midfield, they were lacking in penetration, and perhaps was an element of frustration beginning to set in as they were again caught on the break by the visitors. Francescoli, who had only played a minor role so far in the second half, picked the ball up in midfield and played it forward for Alzamendi. Uruguay’s right-sided forward had since long been aware that Carranza was closing in to make a challenge, so he calmly sidestepped him and sped goalwards. Before the Peruvians could get near him, Alzamendi had shot diagonally low towards the left hand post, where Purizaga had failed to keep the ball out. And so the Uruguayans had increased their lead halfway through the second period.
On 72 minutes, the hosts become the first to make a substitution when they bring attacking midfielder Francesco Manassero, a 23 year old of Sporting Cristal, on for Hirano. While the latter had failed to release a telling pass in the direction of their forwards, he had often been on the ball, using his low centre of gravity to dart past an opponent. In fact, it seemed somewhat strange to the neutrals that he had to come off, but perhaps had he taken a knock? It was assumed that Manassero would replace Hirano in a like for like swap.
Peru had actually managed to aim a shot directly at target, though decent young left-back Olivares’ shot from 22-23 yards failed to duly worry Pereira, even if the ‘keeper had conceded a minor rebound. Down the other end, another Uruguayan break had threatened to see Paz release Sosa in on goal, though at full speed, he had failed in precision, with the ball harmlessly rolling through to Purizaga. The navy blue clad away side were still looking the bigger goal threat.
While the hosts appear to involve libero del Solar to a greater extent around this time, one can not really say that they’ve abandoned their 5-3-2 stance. Yes, the 23 year old of Universitario does have some vital ability in distribution, and it is no coincidence that he’s seeing more of the ball even a few yards inside the opposition’s half. He can clearly benefit their cause, although their missing piece is possibly just as much running off the ball from their forwards as it is imaginative midfield play. Manassero has not brought about an immediate revolution either.
Less than four minutes after Peru’s change, Uruguay make their first substitution with Paz being replaced by Pablo Bengoechea. The Uruguayan playmaker’s had a fine game, where he had starred in the transitional phases. His interacting with Sosa had also been key, and the reason for why he was coming off was probably due to a knock which he’d picked up following a poorly timed Uribe challenge earlier in the half. Still, they could afford to withdraw their most influental player so far as they were seemingly in perfect control of proceedings.
Peru keep huffing and puffing to little avail. They simply do not have the means to break through this visiting defence. Uruguay, on the other hand, make their second change when young midfield man Gabriel Correa, a 21 year old of Peñarol, is brought on for Ostolaza, who might not have had a brilliant game, but who nevertheless had proved a vital cog in their battle to keep the hosts at bay, largely due to his physicality. With both substitutes on, their midfield remained a threesome, where Perdomo still sat in the deeper, holding role, and with Correa to his right, Bengoechea to his left. The latter, though, was not offering as much service in the transitions as his predecessor had done, and Uruguay were no longer placing an emphasis on breaking at pace, being two goals to the good anyway.
With approximately 50 seconds of additional time having been played at the end of the second half, the referee sounds his whistle one last time, and the visitors have the two points in the bag. The final few minutes had been a relatively subdued affair, with Peru mustering little in terms of effort aimed at the visitors’ goal. Uruguay see the game out in a professional manner, and so their two substitutions had worked out the way which Tabárez must have been hoping they would.
The hosts go about seeking possession, though they can not find the necessary tempo and precision in order to break down what turned out to be a highly efficient Uruguayan rear guard, in which their two centre-backs excelled. Still, Gutiérrez and de León were not immensely troubled, although the Peruvian midfield did have some individual finesse about it. They severely lacked in punch inside the final third, though.
Uruguay kept it tight at the back and hit the hosts on the break several times. They took two second half opportunities very well, with Alzamendi, creator of their first, netted a second halfway through the final period. His forward partner Sosa had benefitted from his assist right at the start of the second half.
Whilst rarely exciting anyone, Uruguay had done exactly what they’d come for: They had nullified the hosts’ threats, and they had managed to silence the home crowd, which had been really up for the game leading up to the kick-off. To start their qualification campaign with two goals, a clean sheet and not least two points, was precisely what Tabárez must have been dreaming of beforehand. Peru were by now out of the qualification reckoning.
1 Purizaga 6.8
not at fault for the goals, even if the second was perhaps not ‘unsavable’. Seemed confident enough when called upon, and did claim a couple of crosses with relative ease
3 Reynoso 6.9
a major improvement from last time around, clearly enjoying a central role. Some nice touches and decent passing, though at times a bit of a soft touch
5 Requena 6.8
at times participated in build-ups from the back, though his main contribution was assisting Olivares in defending against Alzamendi/Francescoli. Unable to prove his worth at attacking set-pieces this time around
6 Carranza 6.8
more of a no-nonsense appearance as a centre-back compared to his horror-show at right-back in La Paz last week. Combined with Arteaga in looking out for Paz/Sosa, though generally thrived at defensive set-pieces when he could challenge in the air
8 del Solar 7.0
surprisingly often went for the long ball from the back, though it didn’t work out for his strikers. Composed, and always with time on the ball, displaying excellent awareness. Part of a central defensive unit which wasn’t always coherent, though
9 Navarro 6.7
the target of several long balls up from the back, though he struggled in battle with the imposing Uruguayan centre-backs. Would at times drop deep, though rarely with much success
10 Uribe 6.9
displayed plenty of evidence of his superb close control and technical ability. Didn’t start awfully well, but grew into it, and in particular his passing would improve from early doors
11 Hirano 6.8
the nimble attacking man drew the opposition’s attention, and he did succeed from time to time in advancing beyond an opponent, even if he would fail to spot a team mate in more advanced positions. Inexplicably replaced, as he had seemed to improve as the game wore on
(7 Manassero –
failed to inspire his team mates after coming on, and could not leave his print on the game whatsoever. He even had a shockingly poor corner kick)
12 Arteaga 6.4
a defensive right-back interpretation, which was mainly due to Paz/Sosa attacking down his flank. Decent pace, though a few passes went astray
14 Olivares 6.8
again a bit of an attacking outlet along the left, although he would typically be challenged defensively by Alzamendi. Plenty of energy; easy to think well of. Positioning at times dubious
19 Dall’Orso 6.0
inflicted very little damage on the opposition’s defence, as he seemed to go hiding for the majority of the game. Truth was that he didn’t have the physicality demanded to challenge the visitors. Once got in behind as Gutiérrez overhit a backpass, but with Uruguay sitting deep, he could rarely draw effect from his alledged pace
1 Pereira 6.9
conceded a couple of rebounds, though none of which turned dangerous. Otherwise not worked so much. Perhaps failed in communication once when Gutiérrez overhit his backpass
2 Gutiérrez 7.3
unbeatable in the air. Stitched the Uruguayan defensive line together, and his positioning was impeccable. Commanding presence
3 de León 7.0
would sometimes pull up by a few yards in order to challenge Navarro who sought deep, though he wasn’t called upon in battle to the same extent as his central defensive partner. Still, his presence alone worried the opposition
4 Herrera 7.1
the more attacking of the two full-backs: left a tidy impression. Would cross from somewhat deep positions. Not so often challenged defensively
5 Perdomo 7.1
guarded the midfield from his deep position. Sensible in his positioning, and would typically play it safe. Strong in battle
6 Domínguez 6.9
far from as attacking as his full-back colleague, but kept his side tight defensively, and showed some impressive one-on-one skills when directly challenged
7 Alzamendi 7.2
stuck to his wide right front role, and would use his unpredictable style to create confusion in the Peruvian defence. Assisted for the first and netted the second, so there could be no arguments against his efficiency
8 Ostolaza 7.0
used his superior physique in battle with the home midfielders, so defensively he put in a shift, whereas he was hardly prominent in the way the Uruguayans wished to portray themselves on the break
(13 Correa –
less imposing than Ostolaza, but showed plenty of commitment during the time he was on the pitch, and so their midfield remained well balanced after his introduction)
9 Francescoli 6.8
a little disappointing considering so much is always expected of him. He rather let others run the show. Should’ve scored with his first half header, and in fairness did give the Peruvian defence some bother with his presence in the channels in the opening 45
10 Paz 7.4
led the transitions by example, and was the more eye-catching visiting midfielder for most of his time on the pitch. Nowhere near the physical presence of his two compatriots in the centre of the pitch, but strong in pressurizing
(14 Bengoechea –
brought on to shore up the midfield, as he wasn’t pushed forward to the same extent as Paz. Offered running from the moment he was introduced)
11 Sosa 7.3
so quick, and aided by Paz behind him, he would occupy two defenders for most of the game. Also a big threat on the counter with his pace