Uruguay seal their passage through to Italia '90
Uruguay had completed step 1 of their quest to catch Bolivia at the top of the table when they’d defeated them a week ago. Now, it was all set for part 2, where all they needed was two points against the team propping up the table, and who had yet to get off the mark for even a point. Peru were the visitors in Montevideo this time, a Peruvian team which had got rid of their much maligned manager Pepe since their previous outing, the 2-1 home defeat against Bolivia two weeks earlier.
Uruguay were defensively as solid a unit as it got. They’d sat deep and hit the Peruvians on the counter when the two teams had met in Lima, and completed a fairly comfortable 2-0 win in the process. Today’s test looked like a formality on paper, but anyone who is involved in football somehow, knows how the game can sometimes fashion up the most extraordinary of surprises. Peru had, after all, shown some promise, and it remained to be seen how they would respond to the new management team.
Before the final game of the group, the table read as follows:
Uruguay team news
Since the win last Sunday had turned out a comfortable on in the end, with Bolivia rounding the game off with only nine men after their two sendings-off, Uruguay manager Óscar Tabárez would’ve been a relatively pleased man during the week. However, that win accounted for nothing unless they were also prepared to go to war for another two points today. Peru, pointless after three qualifiers, might have sounded a foregone conclusion to some, but nothing in football comes your way unless you’re willing to dig in. Tabárez still needed to convey that message across to his group of players.
Two key members had dropped out of the ‘Celeste’ squad since last week. They were holding midfielder José Perdomo and not least the captain and talisman himself, Enzo Francescoli. We’d seen Perdomo hobble off before the end of the Bolivia tie thanks to the cynical ‘tackle’ he was exposed to from Ricardo Fontana (who had been red-carded), so an injury could well have been a likely reason for his absence. However, Perdomo had also picked up two bookings, one in both matches against Bolivia, so he was nevertheless suspended for this tie. When it came to former ‘South American player of the year’ Francescoli, he had not been released by his club: Marseille had played away to Toulon in the French top flight only yesterday, winning 4-0 with Francescoli twice on target, and with their crucial return leg of the first round match-up against Danish champions Brøndby in the European Cup coming up on Wednesday September 27, there was no way he was going to be available to Tabárez.
The interesting aspect was whether this meant Uruguay would change their set-up around, or whether they’d just accommodate available players straight into the positions left vacant by Perdomo and Francescoli. Rubén Paz had excelled so far in the qualification, and in light of his performances, perhaps they could tolerate Francescoli’s absence. And in a tie where they, once again, were expected to boss possession, surely, even the loss of Perdomo seemed bearable.
Brought into the squad to compensate for the pair, were Defensor’s 20 year young striker Sergio Martínez and 21 year young Danubio midfielder Rubén Pereira. Both had been part of their Copa América squad, so even if neither had featured in either of Uruguay’s three previous World Cup qualifying squads, it is not as if they were strangers to the rest of the group of players. One got the impression that Tabárez had wanted to create a stable environment for the players to thrive in. Squad consistency seemed a key word. Including these two, a total of 19 players had been involved across their four qualifying squads, while only 13 had been in action so far.
Peru team news
The Peruvians had got rid of Brazilian manager José Macia since their last qualifier, that unnecessary 2-1 home loss against Bolivia. They had dominated the game for large spells, and were even given the chance to snatch a draw when they had been awarded a penalty nine minutes from time. However, centre-back Pedro Requena had failed to beat Carlos Trucco from 12 yards.
With ‘Pepe’ gone, his assistant, former Peruvian international for a decade, Percy Rojas, a 40 year old with some coaching background from domestic club side Internazionale San Borja, had stepped up. With no further internationals scheduled after this one, his appointment had been made a temporary one. Could they help neighbouring Bolivia to reach their first World Cup in 40 years? If Peru could snatch an unlikely draw, or obviously a win, they would deny today’s hosts a second successive World Cup participation.
Peru did have some players of fine quality, but as a team, they’d been an uneven acquaintance over their three previous qualifiers. Could they hide their flaws sufficiently to make an upset which would reverberate around the globe today?
While there had been a lot of consistency in the Uruguayan squad and team selections so far, the same did not quite apply for the Peruvians. Including today, a total of 25 players had been chosen for their four matchday squads. 21 players had been in action during their first three games. With a ‘new’ manager installed for the occasion, it did not seem unthinkable that yet another player or two would get some game time.
Today’s visitors had travelled with just 15 players. They were without the suspended Percy Olivares, their left-sided defender, who had been one of their better and more consistent performers until this point in their qualification. His booking against Bolivia had been his second of the campaign. In addition to Olivares, a further three players had left the squad since two weeks ago: midfielder Luis Reyna, who had played only the first half, and even as the team captain, wide man Carlos Torres, who had come on for the start of the second half, as well as wide forward Eduardo Rey Muñoz, who had played the entire 90 against the Bolivians.
Coming in were defenders Pedro Sanjínez and Carlos Guido, as well as midfielder Juan Carlos Bazalar. The two latter had not featured in either of their previous three qualification squads, while Sanjínez had been an unused substitute when Uruguay had won 2-0 in Lima four Sundays ago. Guido had been part of Peru’s Copa América squad, and had come on as a second half substitute in their final game, the 1-1 draw against Colombia, where he had even got himself sent off a few minutes from time.
While ‘Pepe’ had chosen three different formations for the three qualifiers he had been in charge of, one remained curious as to what kind of formation and tactics his predecessor would make use of.
A 45 year old Brazilian by the name of José Roberto Wright had been placed in charge. He’d refereed a total of five World Cup qualifiers previously, two for the 1982 tournament: Colombia 1-1 Uruguay, as well as the AFC/OFC final round group tie between China and Saudi Arabia in Malaysia, 2-0, and three for the 1986 competition: Colombia 2-1 Paraguay and Ecuador 1-1 Chile, as well as the intercontinental play-off, second leg, tie between Australia and Scotland, 0-0. He’d also run the rule over no less than 29 Copa Libertadores fixtures through eleven years, and it was fair to say that he was an above average experienced FIFA referee.
The two countries were about to meet for the 42nd time in history, since their inaugural encounter back in 1927, when the Copa América tie between the pair had ended in a 4-0 away win for the Uruguayans.
23-9-9 read the statistics in Uruguay’s favour ahead of this afternoon’s clash. The Peruvians had enjoyed a 13 year long unbeaten spell from 1970 to 1983, but those years apart, today’s host had maintained a firm grip on these encounters. Prior to the meeting in Lima four weeks earlier, they had come head to head in World Cup qualification on four occasions: Twice ahead of the 1966 tournament in England, and twice again ahead of the 1982 games in Spain. As Peru had qualified for the latter competition, they’d won in Montevideo and drawn at home in Lima. Back in ’65, Uruguay had won both meetings.
Uruguay and Peru had also locked horns here in Montevideo during the first ever World Cup back in 1930, something which had ended with a 1-0 group stage victory for the soon to be champions (it was their first game of the tournament).
Venue and conditions
Estadio Centenario had been built for the 1930 World Cup, and as the name suggests, 100 years had passed at the time for the stadium’s opening since the origin of Uruguay’s constitution. Its tenant at the time was the country’s most successful club Peñarol, who were on 38 league championships to main rival Nacional’s 34.
The capacity at the time was around 70 000. While it had more or less been full for the match against Bolivia last Sunday, the turn-out on this occasion was not equally impressive.
Footage from the game shows that it is a blustery occasion: People in the stands are wearing clothes to protect them from the gales, which appear to be blowing right into the faces of the home players in the first half.
|1 Eduardo Pereira||35||Independiente|
|2 Nelson Gutiérrez||27||Hellas Verona|
|3 Hugo de León (c)||31||River Plate|
|4 José Herrera||24||Figueres|
|5 Gabriel Correa||21||Peñarol|
|6 Alfonso Domínguez||24||Peñarol|
|7 Antonio Alzamendi||33||Logroñés|
|8 Santiago Ostolaza||27||Nacional|
|9 Rubén Paz||30||Genoa|
|10 Pablo Bengoechea||24||Sevilla|
|11 Rubén Sosa||23||Lazio|
|x Javier Zeoli||27||Tenerife|
|x William Castro||27||Nacional|
|x Rubén Pereira||21||Danubio|
|x Rubén da Silva||21||River Plate|
|x Sergio Martínez||20||Defensor|
|21 Jesús Purizaga||29||Sporting Cristal|
|2 Jorge Arteaga||22||Sporting Cristal|
|3 Juan Reynoso||32′||19||Alianza Lima|
|6 José Carranza||25||Universitario de Deportes|
|8 José del Solar||30′||21||Universitario de Deportes|
|11 Jorge Hirano||sub 54′||29||Bolívar|
|15 Pedro Requena (c)||28||Universitario de Deportes|
|16 Pedro Sanjínez||23||Alianza Atlético|
|19 Andrés Gonzáles||21||Universitario de Deportes|
|20 Carlos Guido||23||Sporting Cristal|
|24 Alfonso Yáñez||sub 62′||19||Universitario de Deportes|
|7 Francesco Manassero||on 62′||23||Sporting Cristal|
|23 Juan Carlos Bazalar||on 54′||21||Universitario de Deportes|
|x Gustavo Gonzáles||26||Sporting Cristal|
|x Martín Dall’Orso||23||Sporting Cristal|
Unfortunately, our tape from the game does not contain much in terms of pre-match ambience; we’re straight on to the kick-off. What we do know, though, is that the attendance figure is significantly lower than it had been just a week before, something which most likely had to do with the weather: It was a cold and windy Montevideo afternoon, and those who had turned out, which in fairness was still not far from 60 000, were wearing big coats, and some even sported woollen hats.
It is the visitors who proceed with the kick-off, and they do so through the two players who have been thrust into the two wide midfield positions, although we’ll learn soon enough that their roles are not entirely similar: Jorge Hirano and Alfonso Yáñez. The former is a regular starter, while Yáñez is making his first starting appearance of Peru’s World Cup qualification.
The very moment of introduction exemplified Uruguay’s desire: Hirano had not poked the ball on to Yáñez before four of the home side’s players raced out of their blocks to close them down. In fact, that was the retake of the initial kick-off, as it had to be done twice: Rubén Sosa, Santiago Ostolaza, Rubén Paz and Pablo Bengoechea were so eager to get going that they could hardly be restrained. You got the feeling right from the word ‘go’ that being a Peruvian player out on that pitch was not going to be an enviable task.
We look through the two sides
The Peruvian team had shown in glimpses so far in the qualification that they were not mere push-overs, even if results had not gone their way. They had some capable players in their ranks, although it must have been a disappointment not to have the talented Olivares available at left-back for this tie. Still, players like centre-back Pedro Requena, who became their fourth starting captain across their four qualifiers (he’d assumed the role of the captain for the final 45 in their most recent game, the 2-1 home loss against Bolivia), and midfielder José del Solar had given sound accounts of themselves. Altogether, though, they’d not quite shown enough quality throughout the team. They’d need plenty of resilience in order to create an upset here.
The wind, which was coming into the faces of the home players in this first half opening, seemed quite strong, and would’ve affected play to some extent. The Uruguayans, despite the absence of their mentor Francescoli, would go about their business as usual, and begin their plot to put their wide forwards into effect. Both Antonio Alzamendi along the right and not least Sosa down the left had provided plenty of pace, trickery and quality until this point in the qualification, and in particular the latter had enjoyed some good vibes with the other attacking players towards the left hand side of the pitch.
Peru had started in what was clearly a 4-5-1 formation, even with a holding midfielder acting as a shield in front of their two central defenders, and it was José Carranza who had been given this task. He’d had an outright poor performance at right-back in Bolivia in their qualification opener, and then he’d been part of a three man central defensive unit at home to Uruguay. He had plenty of physicality about him, something which was not always a distinguished feature among the players through the team. In possession, though, Carranza was hardly of top class international calibre. With Hirano the wide left midfield option for the visitors, it meant that Carranza would actually seek towards the left hand side in order to assist left-back Carlos Guido, a newcomer to the team for the qualification. Hirano would turn out to be more attacking than Yáñez across from him along the right. This is why Carranza would engage towards this territory, in order to balance up.
Paz, who had orchestrated so much of Uruguay’s play until now in the qualification, perhaps even more so than captain Francescoli, had inherited the France based superstar’s number 9 shirt for the occasion, and he had even been moved forward into the absent skipper’s deep-lying forward role. Given how well Paz had performed as the advanced inside left midfield man in their previous three qualifiers, it had maybe seemed a little daring from Tabárez to take him out of his direct environment, even though Francescoli, too, had often collaborated with the attacking forces along the left-handed channel. Paz would now try to replicate this.
Not just at left-back did Peru have a first-time starter in the qualification: Even right-back Pedro Sanjínez would be getting his ‘debut’ game time for the campaign. Slotting into the position which had previously been held by a player who today was operating through the heart of their defence, Jorge Arteaga, Sanjínez quickly gave evidence of his sheer dedication and commitment. He was clearly a combative performer, and he’d look to keep up with Sosa as best as he could. Arteaga inside of him would also keep an eye towards this area of the pitch. The latter was not of typical centre-back build, with a fairly modest size, but he offered pace, enthusiasm and flexibility, and would look to form a steady partnership with Requena.
Both Bengoechea and 21 year old Gabriel Correa would start a qualifier for the first time in this Italia ’90 campaign. The former had taken up Paz’ previous role as the left hand channel biased inside midfielder, and while he didn’t quite possess Paz’ strength in possession or have his range of passing, Bengoechea instead offered plenty of runs into the heart of the opposition’s defence. Perhaps could this represent something of a welcome change from what they’d accounted for hitherto, even if that had far from been of insufficient quality.
As for Correa, filling the bustling Perdomo’s shoes would’ve been a daunting task for a young performer with not a whole lot of international know-how. Still, he went about the job in a positive, confident manner, as he’d look to distribute quickly rather than dwell on the ball. He was also not afraid to put himself about, even if he didn’t quite have Perdomo’s frame. Perhaps did Correa offer a bigger engine than his predecessor, and against an opponent which they were expected to overcome, he could prove an asset.
Captain Requena and leading midfielder José del Solar were Peru’s strongest players aerially. Especially with how the wind was working in the faces of the home side’s players, set-pieces could become an instrumental factor, and whenever there was a ball to be hit towards the centre of the opposition’s area, whether it be delievered by Alzamendi, Paz or Bengoechea, it was always the tall Ostolaza whom Uruguay were looking to reach. It was del Solar’s task to stick close to him, and he would give a fine account of himself even in these challenges, although you always felt del Solar prefered play to happen along the ground, where he could make use of that tasty, cultured left foot of his. Requena would often be drawn towards Uruguay centre-back Nelson Gutiérrez, another terrific header of the ball.
For assisting wide play, the home side were always drawing on their two adventurous full-backs to participate in coming forward. Both José Herrera to the right and the bearded, diminutive Alfonso Domínguez along the left would willingly be lured into crossing the halfway line. Herrera would more often than his full-back colleague transport and then look for options low towards the centre, in front of the Peruvian penalty area, while Domínguez had several options along with him down that left-handed flank in Bengoechea, Paz and Sosa. They all combined well, and would not have been an easy unit to defend against.
A player who had looked better as the qualification had progressed, had been Peru’s 19 year old Alianza Lima midfielder Juan Reynoso. Having formed a dysfunctional right hand side with Carranza in their opening tie in La Paz, the youngster had looked much more at ease when he’d been moved into the centre for their following fixtures. That is also where he was on this occasion. Not as eye-catching as the other inside midfield man del Solar, Reynoso was stronger off the ball, able to make defence-splitting runs, although this particular ability would not be a feature here. He could also try ambitious passes, such as when he’d attempted a clever little through-ball for Hirano through the centre six minutes into the game. Alas, the wide left forward, who had come inside to lend striker Andrés Gonzáles support for the occasion, had momentarily dozed off, and what could’ve turned into an opportunity was rather seen through to his goalkeeper by acting Uruguay captain Hugo de León.
Starting at centre-half alongside Gutiérrez for the fourth straight qualifier, de León was a tower of strength and reliability. Despite not looking the quickest, his positioning saw to that he’d still hold an advantage against an opposing striker, as he was almost impossible to out-challenge, whether it be on the ground or in the air. The tandem with Gutiérrez and the understanding which the pair had built, proved so efficient for Tabárez, and thanks to the pair, Uruguay rarely shipped goals. Having a goalkeeper of such experience behind them as 35 year old Pereira, was another bonus. Few would’ve predicted even a solitary goal from the visitors beforehand today.
The light-framed Alfonso Yáñez was Peru’s right-sided midfield option. He had come on at half-time in their last outing, and he’d even provided a fine ‘second assist’ for Gonzáles’ second half equalizer then. A player with a fine workrate, Yáñez was also quite sound technically, and he would look to skip past an opponent when given the opportunity. However, he was easily wrestled out of possession. He would also need to engage quite a lot in defensive duties, as the opponents were looking to deploy their attacking left-hand side, directly against the 19 year old.
Not much happening
Until the halfway point in the first 45, there is not a whole lot happening in front of either goal. One must say that it is something of a disappointment how the Uruguayans have failed to put the visitors truly to the sword thus far. Defending has been relatively comfortable for the away side’s two blocks of four and five respectively. Up top, though, they are offering preciously little, as had been expected, really. The bulky Gonzáles has tried to accelerate ball at feet a couple of times, but he’s not had much luck from Gutiérrez and de León.
The Uruguayans fail to sustain a sufficient ball tempo in order to draw the visitors out of their blocks, and it could well be a combination of playing into the wind and having had to do some reshuffling in their team. Paz is not quite finding his rhythm in the Francescoli role, although Bengoechea is doing his bit to lift the team from his midfield position. He does not operate solely towards the left, but can also be seen coming across to the right, attempting to lend Herrera and Alzamendi a helping hand, or foot, rather. Bengoechea is also instrumental in set-piece delieveries, in particular from deep positions. Ostolaza, yet, has had little success, as both del Solar and Requena have coped with him.
An increase in tempo
From around 25 minutes, Uruguay do up the ante a little. They at last find some urgency, and collectively they strive to pass the ball around at an increased pace, and they begin to retrieve balls quicker following clearances into touch from the visitors. Still, their passing in the forward direction remains a little inaccurate, but there are slim margins, and you do begin to sense that the home side are finally realizing what’s at stake.
There has not been a whole lot of temperature in the game so far. The referee has dished out plenty of free-kicks, something which has also not helped in maintaining a steady flow to the proceedings, but there has been no malice from anyone. The Uruguayan midfield, exemplified through Correa and Ostolaza, are winning more and more challenges, and the sky blue clad home players look more determined. Peru have showed a few nice touches in midfield, but have had no penetration whatsoever.
On the half hour, there’s a first booking of the game. Uruguay right-back Herrera had gone to the ground fairly theatrically 22 yards from the byline, straight out from the right hand corner of the penalty area, and while Carranza had been the player who had got the tackle in, del Solar had clearly felt annoyed by what he considered a dive from the full-back. He comes up to Wright’s face, and can be seen asking questions. The Brazilian wants none of it, and produces the yellow card after a few seconds.
How is it not 1-0?
The ensuing free-kick leads to two huge goal attempts: Both Bengoechea and Paz are over the set-piece, but it is the latter who chips the ball left-footed into the centre, where Gutiérrez defeats Requena in the air and flicks it on towards the back post, where Ostolaza, free from Sanjínez, who for some reason is trying to mark him this time around, meets it at point blank range. With a goal looking odds-on, the big midfield man’s powerful header only goes straight at a fortunate Purizaga, who, to his credit, has moved sideways quickly, and positioned himself impeccably.
Then, as the ball is beaten away, it ends up with left-back Domínguez, of all people, who is stood nine yards out, and who connects with a first time volley from his favoured left foot. Either side of Purizaga, and it is a goal. However, the ‘keeper gets it straight to him once again, and Purizaga can parry it to his left, where neither of Alzamendi or Paz can react quickly enough to prod it over the line. Ultimately, Purizaga is there, too, and diverts the ball out for a right wing corner. Next, the Peru custodian comes to punch Paz’ corner towards Ostolaza away. At last, some action!
Reynoso must walk
After the first 25 minutes had been quite uneventful, there’s suddenly a period in which everything seems to happen at once. When Purizaga had got down to deny Alzamendi to tuck the final rebound into the back of the net by the upright, and in the process both conceded a corner and injured himself, the ‘keeper was given some treatment by the Peru paramedics, and even manager Rojas was there to offer his stopper some praise and further words of encouragement. It had been an exemplary few seconds from Purizaga, who had made no less than three goal-saving interceptions. He was soon back on to his feet.
The goalkeeper then punched Paz’ right wing corner away, and it reached as far as Yáñez, who suddenly was free to run with the ball at his feet, with no Uruguayans between himself and Pereira in the home side’s goal. The only problem is he was still 80 yards away, and he didn’t trust his pace enough, and so checked and got caught up by Bengoechea, who had led the returning charges. As this happened just inside the Uruguayan half of the pitch, Yáñez soon went to the ground, with Bengoechea stood over him.
It was quite surreal what happened next. Reynoso, the young midfielder, was first from a group of Peruvian players arriving on the scene, and he exchanged a couple of words with Bengoechea, who then went on to give Reynoso a little slap on the cheek. The latter responded promptly with a strike back on to Bengoechea’s jaw. Reynoso had struck so quickly it was almost comical; like they were exchanging fists in a slap-stick show. Bengoechea goes to the ground. He is not seriously hurt, but he’s professional enough to realize that this has been enough to get his opponent sent off. With a World Cup berth at stake, it was a clever bit of acting, although he had for sure been struck.
Reynoso realizes what he’s done. He’s covering his mouth, looking in disbelief at the scenes around him, and at Bengoechea laying on the ground as if he’s been well and truly flattened by a middle weight champion. The referee proceeds to show the teenager the red card, which is absolutely correct, but Bengoechea had provoked the punch through his slap, which eventually went unpunished. Reynoso is subsequently guided off the pitch by his manager, to a chorus of jeers from the home crowd.
Uruguay find themselves in a situation similar to last week, when they were also playing against ten men, though on that occasion they had already gone in front by the time when the first of the two sendings-off had occured. Today, with the scores still level, the visitors can continue to sit deep and try and fend the hosts off, even though that becomes an increasingly difficult task ten vs eleven.
Rojas appears to regroup his players into a 4-3-2 formation, with Hirano moving further forward to accompany Gonzáles up top, as the effect of still having him along the left hand side is perhaps not that great, considering the wide midfielder down the opposite flank, Yáñez, now seems to have been told to tuck inside, as a more central option following Reynoso’s departure.
There is definitely a higher passion running through the two sets of players in the wake of the dismissal, and there’s a couple of slightly over the top challenges in the few ensuing minutes, not least when Carranza twice goes into tackles with opponents. Both Paz and Bengoechea feel his presence. For the last of the two duels, referee Wright feels the need to have a word with the Peruvian defensive midfielder, who does appear a little hot-headed.
Uruguay continue in much the same vein as previously, with their set-pieces still their main asset. While Ostolaza continues to be the player whom they look for when there’s a delievery to be made into the centre, there’s a major opportunity all of a sudden for Paz, who is left completely unguarded six yards out on the near post from another left wing Alzamendi corner. With heading possibly not Paz’ greatest forte, the elegant playmaker contrives to send his effort a yard or so over the bar. Another big chance goes begging.
This period of relentless Uruguay pressure lingers as the clock passes the 40 minute mark. Credit certainly must go to the growingly overworked Peruvian defence, in which skipper Requena marshals the troops well. He’s a rock in the centre, and appears very vocal in directing instructions to his team mates. Arteaga, a relatively low-key figure in the side, seems quite assured by now, with the defence in which he’s an integral part of, holding firm, and he executes a terrific tackle on Herrera, who’s tried to enter the 18 yard area from the right.
The precision in Uruguay’s passing is improved since earlier in the half, and it can well be due to the fact that they now have more space in midfield following the red card. Correa is keeping it simple in his short passing game, though he does appear to have joined somewhat higher in the pitch by this point. It is he who sets Sosa up for a low, right-footed effort from the edge of the area, straight out from goal. His shot, however, does not worry the confident Purizaga duly, and though the ‘keeper seems to spill it first time, he quickly redeems himself by grasping it safely before Alzamendi can pose a threat. He’s all smiles in the wake of the situation.
Wave after wave
It really is all Uruguay by now, unsurprisingly, and they seem to be getting into shooting range with greater ease than previously. With their right-hand side now more effective than their left, it is again a collaboration by Herrera and Alzamendi which in turn releases Bengoechea into the area, arriving from the right hand channel. He tricks Arteaga by pretending to shoot with his right, and with the defender gone, Bengoechea tees himself up for the shot, from the outside of his right boot rather than striking it with his left, which, from an angle, again is straight at the ‘keeper on 43 minutes.
Breakthrough at last
With nearly two minutes of additional time having been played in the first half, Peru seem to have been lulled into a false sense of belief that the job has been completed, at least through to half time. They’d weathered some severe gales from the hosts, as well as the actual breezes across the field of play. They looked to relax a little with the ball in their side, as Uruguay were taking a little breather.
Big mistake. Having won a throw-in along the right through Hirano off Domínguez, the home side then see Bengoechea flick the ball on to Ostolaza just inside their own half, to the left. First time, the big midfielder knocks a ball in the forward direction for Sosa to chase, and darting towards the area, he checks the ball on to his right and then back on to his left, fooling Arteaga in the process. The Italy based marksman then strikes it low, diagonally with his left foot, and even if the shot does not have a lot of power, it finds its way into the back of the net under the left arm of the so far impressive Purizaga. It could’ve been kept out. Sosa wheels away in pure extacy, performing an aircraft imitation, lifted by those 57 000 present. Uruguay were on their way to Italy!
The first half runs through to 49,02 minutes without further incidents. While it had been a relatively modest first 25 minutes, the game certainly sprung to life through some increased intensity from the home side and the subsequent red card incident for Reynoso’s punch. The goal was coming, but they’d have to wait, although it must have felt like such a relief when Sosa performed yet another trademark strike of his. Deservedly 1-0 at half time.
Uruguay had bossed possession for the entire first half, and in the latter part, they also made their dominance count: There were several chances created before Sosa finally struck for the fourth time in the qualification. The visitors, meanwhile, had done what they could from their preconditions, trying to close off the Uruguayans’ avenues to goal. And when that had proved difficult, they’d needed Purizaga to bail them out. Ten versus eleven was hardly an ideal recipe for getting at least a goal to deny the hosts World Cup participation, but they would have to make an effort nevertheless.
The second half kick-off was left for Paz and Bengoechea to deal with.
Uruguay feel no urgent need to head straight to attack, and it would appear to be a wise decision to perhaps sit back slightly and see what it is that the Peruvians have to offer. The visitors had not been much of an attacking force in the opening half, and it was difficult to think that they would improve much on those conditions now in the second 45. They were away from home, they were up against a strong, organized team playing in front of their vociferous supporters, and they had little to play for. In addition, they were now kicking into the wind.
Peru’s three man midfield now consisted of the calm, assured del Solar in the centre. He’d provide the forward passes, and if someone would make forward runs, it was Yáñez, who was a bit of a livewire. He had decent close control, but he remained pretty useless in combat. Carranza, however, weighed up for that with his continued presence at the rear of their midfield, still leaning somewhat towards the left, where left-back Guido was still facing the threat from Alzamendi, Herrera and at times Bengoechea and even Paz.
While Paz might enjoy more playing in that deeper role than the one which he’s occupying today, he’s still very much a handful when utilised in the right way. Herrera feeds a ball down the right hand channel, which Paz uses his excellent technique to gain control of, and even dart into the area ahead of the chasing Arteaga. Paz quickly checks the ball on to his delicate left foot before he reaches the byline, and having spotted Bengoechea’s run towards the back post, he feeds the attacking midfield man, who connects first time, half volley on the corner of the six yard area. Unfortunately, he gets way too much under the ball, which sails a couple of storeys too high, but it had certainly been a reminder of Uruguay’s potency.
An unfathomable miss
Out of next to nothing, there’s a major chance for the Peruvians to equalize. In fact, it is almost beyond belief how Hirano fails to tuck the ball into the back of the net. A free-kick just inside their own half had been worked to del Solar, who lifted the ball into the area, looking for Gonzáles, only for Herrera to arrive and make a headed clearance. It only went as far as to Yáñez, who had made a forward run, and his header found Hirano in space inside the area. The nippy forward fed Yáñez the ball back, and as the latter went for a first time effort on his left foot, his mishit shot fell nicely for Hirano, whom de León had failed to mark.
Hirano was already in motion, and his momentum took him past the Uruguayan captain, and he even proceeded to take the ball round Pereira. The visitors must have begun to celebrate the equalizer already when Hirano failed to wrap his foot around the ball, only putting it off the outside of the post and wide. Unbelievable stuff. Hirano is consoled by Gonzáles, though neither could probably believe how the Bolívar man had failed to help the people of the country where he was earning his living. That was a chance and a half. Any Bolivian watching would’ve said a curse or three.
The question was whether that opportunity would wake the Uruguayans up from their slumber, or whether it would actually spur the visitors to go on and believe that they could create further openings. Either way, Hirano would play no further part, as only a minute after his golden opportunity, he was withdrawn from the pitch. Perhaps had he pulled up as he’d tried to guide the ball into the back of the net. His non-stop running would’ve been an asset to the ten man strong away side, so it would appear that the reasons for taking him off were down to injury rather than tactics. To complicate that picture and idea somewhat, though, was the fact that Hirano’s replacement was another central midfielder in the shape of Juan Carlos Bazalar, who would appear for the first time during this qualification campaign. Forward Martín Dall’Orso remained seated on the bench.
The hosts add a second
Bazalar has been on the pitch less than four minutes when Uruguay strike again. The home side have the efficient Sosa in their ranks, and when a Paz free-kick out on the left is played to Bengoechea just inside of him, the Uruguayans’ number 10 proceeds to find the Lazio ace to the left inside the area. Peru right-back Sanjínez hasn’t paid attention, and Sosa was with plenty of space around him. He’s not the kind of forward who needed to be asked twice whether to shoot or not, and yet again he found the back of the net with a low, left-footed, diagonal effort. This time it went in off the upright, and Purizaga was left with no chance to save. Sosa netted his fifth goal of the qualification, to take him up to Careca’s tally. They were now joint top-scorers in the CONMEBOL section of the qualification.
With a two-goal cushion, Uruguay must begin to feel quite confident that they now will take part in next year’s games in Italy. It appears very unlikely that they will concede twice to a ten men Peru. The guests, incidentally, had moved Yáñez further forward after the introduction of Bazalar, and the former was now playing more or less alongside Gonzáles in much the same role which Hirano had occupied. This again seemed to strengthen the hypothesis that Hirano had come off with an aggravated injury. Bazalar had indeed come on in midfield, alongside del Solar.
Hosts to rely on counter-attacking?
‘La Celeste’ are a very capable side when sitting deep and hitting teams on the break, and so a two goal advantage suited them no less than what looking for goals had done. Neither of Correa or Ostolaza were working so high up the pitch following that second goal as they had been doing previously, and they would rely on their three or four most forward players to deal with attacking on their own. At least for the time being. De León won the ball just inside his own half and fed Sosa down the left in a counter. Having spotted Paz making a run into the area, Sosa played the deep-lying forward in, but Paz couldn’t quite control the ball at pace, and Purizaga impressively came off his line to duck down at Paz’ feet and collect.
Alfonso Yáñez had done his bit by 62 minutes. Rojas went on to replace him with attacking midfield man Francesco Manassero, who came on for the second time in this qualification, in addition to his starting inclusion during the home loss against Bolivia two weeks earlier. The 23 year old Sporting Cristal man had so far in the ongoing campaign failed to impress. Would he take directly over in the ‘Hirano role’ up top, or would he be accommodated into midfield?
Uruguay’s approach is clearly more pragmatic by the time the game surpasses 70 minutes. They do still move both Ostolaza and Gutiérrez forward for dead ball situations, but there’s definitely less enthusiasm when it comes to crossing the halfway line from either full-back. At least neither Herrera nor Domínguez bombs forward freely. It is all part of Tabárez’ instructions. Further goals would add little but cosmetics. Securing their passage through to Italia ’90 is the only ambition now.
For the away team, Manassero does work at the helm of the midfield, and not quite as attackingly as Hirano/Yáñez had been doing before him. He is more a typical playmaking kind of athlete, though one could debate around whether he’s good enough at top international level. Most of his touches come inside the Peruvian half. Gonzáles does little in terms of harm as a solitary figure up top, and del Solar is next to have a go when he battles well and wins the ball from Correa. 28 yards out he shoots low, but it is all too comfortable for Pereira.
With about a quarter of an hour left for play, the game has gone somewhat dull. Uruguay keep refraining from sending many players forward, and Peru again defend with a level of ease which was getting reminiscent of play up until around 25 minutes of the first half. The visitors were seeing more of the ball, but they seemed quite clueless as to how they were going to use it. They do work Pereira again on 75 minutes, when Guido’s free-kick 32 yards out bounces just in front of him, but Manassero is not close enough to pose a threat for the rebound, which the ‘keeper ultimately collects.
The game enters its final ten minutes with not a whole lot of happening other than Uruguay being presented with opportunities to catch Peru on the break. There is not so much structure left in the visiting team further forward than their defensive line, and in particular Manassero struggles to express an understanding of being part of a collective. His ball transportation rarely leads anywhere but into cul-de-sacs, and often it is de León who takes over when he’s lost possession, and the captain will look for Sosa or Paz towards the left.
Had the hosts wanted, they would’ve surely made Purizaga work again. As it is, they have become a little, well, saturated, and they, too, fall into the trap of failing to make use of better placed team mates. Paz arrives in possession just outside the area following some fine work by Herrera, though he can’t get his shot round Requena, who’s covering his goal well. The sting has clearly gone out of this, with less than ten minutes left for play.
Yet another seemingly hopeless Manassero run this time sees him win a free-kick off Domínguez more than 30 yards out from goal. Seven minutes from time, Peru work Pereira one final time, although the goalkeeper’s involvement had really been surplus to requirements, as Guido’s subsequent free-kick would’ve cleared the bar anyway, as shown by the replay.
Our tape is complete with action until around 86 minutes, when all of a sudden it makes a few skips. After one such, there’s an out of the blue Sosa effort to the left inside the area, a shot which is parried by Purizaga in a good height for a goalkeeper, thus denying the number 11 his hat-trick. This might’ve been just prior to actual full time, though the order of events beyond the 41 minute mark in the second half is very unclear. Ultimately, our tape concludes 86,36 after the start of the final period, so it will always remain a mystery just how much time senhor Wright actually did add beyond the 90 minutes.
Not that Uruguay cared one bit. They had done their job. They had won 2-0, and Italia ’90 would indeed happen for exciting players like Sosa, Francescoli, Paz and more.
Uruguay did look interested in taking the game to the visitors right away, but they might’ve struggled with nerves, because their precision wasn’t up to necessary levels until beyond the halfway point in the first 45. They conjured up some huge opportunities to open the scoring when Ostolaza, Domínguez and Alzamendi all drew close range saves from Purizaga, before Reynoso struck Bengoechea on the jaw and got himself sent off.
With just ten men on the pitch and still an hour left for play, Peru’s chances of aiding neighbouring Bolivia through to the World Cup didn’t look good. And having weathered some home opportunities in the latter first half stages, they finally succumbed to a quick transition when Ostolaza sent Sosa down the left. The Italy based forward struck with a classic of his: Left-footed, low into the diagonal corner from inside the area.
In the second half, Hirano failed to score in an empty net having rounded Pereira, and when Sosa doubled the home side’s advantage only minutes after, that was the end of Peru’s resistance. There was not much in terms of interest happening towards the end, but Uruguay were nevertheless through to the World Cup, and didn’t care. Peru rounded their campaign off with an expected defeat, their fourth such from four matches.
1 Pereira 6.7
gave hints of uncertainty when he conceded a couple of needless rebounds, as well as tipping over a shot which he could’ve let be. First half almost didn’t touch the ball; difficult to place a verdict on
2 Gutiérrez 7.4
an intimidating, imposing figure. Did not over-assert himself in order to keep Gonzáles monitored. Very sound in aerial battle defensively, but failed to pose much of an attacking threat at set-pieces
3 de León 7.3
cultured, yet assured performance in not too difficult circumstances. Made various interceptions, and would often advance ball at feet. Eager to play Sosa down the flank second half
4 Herrera 7.2
far more prone to joining in attack than his full-back compatriot, and did it well. First half he would look to play the ball in front of the penalty area rather than aim high, while he made it to the byline a few times in the second half. Defensively coped impeccably with Hirano until the latter changed position
5 Correa 7.1
stepped in for Perdomo well, as he went about business solidly at the rear of midfield, with a couple of feisty challenges. Kept his passes short, and always looked confident
6 Domínguez 6.7
previously so attacking from his left-back position, he generally stayed back today. Also rarely challenged defensively, so not an easy performance to judge
7 Alzamendi 7.1
constantly on the move along the right, and should’ve had an assist when his left wing corner found Paz unmarked five yards out second half. Gave Guido a run for the money, and linked up well with Herrera and Ostolaza, and even Bengoechea when he approached the right hand side
8 Ostolaza 6.9
did look a tad heavy. Not very elegant, but still quite effective through his physique defensively. Struggled to make a mark at attacking set-pieces, as del Solar dealt with him well. Fine ball into space for Sosa’s first
9 Paz 7.0
did not excel to the same extent in the role which Francescoli usually has; would’ve prefered to operate deeper. Still, posed a threat with a couple of intelligent runs off the ball, while his usually innovative passing game wasn’t quite up to previous standards. Should’ve scored with an early second half header
10 Bengoechea 7.2
interpreted the ‘Paz role’ differently, as he engaged more towards the centre and right areas. Looked for possession, accepted responsibility, and was keen to impress. Not always so precise in his passes, but his runs into the area were useful. Assisted for the second goal
11 Sosa 7.9
two predator-like strikes to send his country through to the World Cup. Had other efforts on goal, too, and was always someone whom the Peruvians needed to look out for. Cut in field more often on this occasion, as they didn’t overload their left hand side as previously
21 Purizaga 7.6
very alert throughout. Well positioned to make various stops on the line, and would happily come off his line to claim or punch aerial balls. Ducked down bravely on Paz second half, but should possibly have stopped the first goal
2 Arteaga 6.9
would attend to Sosa when the striker cut inside, and failed to close him down for the opening goal. Generally sound in his positioning, and made a few clearances
3 Reynoso 6.7
was involved in some midfield battles, and had looked visionary in how he’d wanted to thread Hirano through early on. Ultimately paid the price for a stupid retaliation, and got sent off
6 Carranza 6.9
worked in the defensive left-sided channel, and used his physique to his advantage, even if he was sometimes late, giving away free-kicks. Of limited skill, and was found out when he was in possession
8 del Solar 7.2
easily the team’s orchestrator in midfield, the player whom nearly all team mates sought for. At times slowed the pace when he could’ve accelerated, but used the ball alright, and was a vital cog on defensive set-pieces in taking Ostolaza out
11 Hirano 6.5
ineffective out wide left, and was switched into a central forward position after Reynoso’s red card. Largely anonymous, but looked to have a decent start to the second half, where he was involved even prior to missing that open goal. Possibly off due to injury
(23 Bazalar 6.6
tucked into the centre in much the same manner as Reynoso had been doing for the first half an hour, but had little knowledge in possession, and wisely kept it basic)
15 Requena 7.4
a tower of strength at the back for the visitors, and he won numerous headers and made plenty of interceptions. Strong in the air, and gave as good as he got against Gutiérrez at set-pieces. A fine leader
16 Sanjínez 6.8
quite a committed performance, and would at times cross the halfway line and provide an option along the right. Certainly not the worst right-back Peru have used during the course of the qualification, even if he’d gone AWOL for Sosa’s second
19 Gonzáles 5.7
looked completely lost, and could do little right. Tumbled to the ground too easily for a big man, and could not impose himself on Uruguay’s centre-backs, against whom he failed to hold the ball up all afternoon
20 Guido 6.7
alert defensively, where he was aptly assisted by Carranza. Did struggle at times with Alzamendi’s pace, while he looked ok in his distribution thanks to a fine left foot, with which he also twice struck second half free-kicks goalwards
24 Yáñez 6.7
had looked lively in spells, and showed glimpses of fine technique, but too lightweight, and was easily muscled out. Influental in Hirano’s open goal miss. Tired prior to being withdrawn, as he’d hardly stopped running, and featured in three different positions
(7 Manassero 6.1
his cameo was of limited use, as he would too often not acknowledge team mates around him when he ran with the ball. Tactically unpolished)