A double from the striker signified a return to his usual lethal form in front of goal as the 24-year-old bounced back after a disappointing tournament in Argentina so farCOMMENT
By Daniel Edwards in La Plata
As he watched the ball roll into the back of the Peru net, the joy and ecstasy on the face of Luis Suarez could be seen even from the other end of the pitch, in the windswept, freezing expanses of the Estadio Unico press area.
Lacking his usual golden touch in front of goal during the group stages, and barely involved in the danger zone against Argentina, the Liverpool man's double in the Copa America semi-final showed that the old cliché is true: form is temporary, the gift for scoring is very much permanent.
The two that Suarez notched on Tuesday night were typical of this born poacher, reminiscent of goals that he has put in for Ajax and the Anfield outfit. The 24-year-old opened his account for the evening when Diego Forlan took a speculative shot from deep, which could only be palmed away by goalkeeper Raul Fernandez. The No.9 almost instinctively knew where the ball would end up, and before anyone else could react, was in control and daintily placing the ball past the despairing keeper.
The second as well, showed off his impeccable reactions and timing. Breaking the offside line to perfection, a sweeping pass by Alvaro Pereira was trapped and controlled by Suarez almost instantly, and with the tiniest of feints the striker had evaded the oncoming Fernandez and did just enough - no power, no effort wasted - to roll the ball inside the right-hand post and put Uruguay into the Copa America final for the first time since 1999.
Lethal Luis | Suarez celebrates his first strike with architect Diego Forlan
It was a vital fixture for Suarez and both he and the fans knew it. Uruguay would not be able to rely on the counterattack as they were against Argentina, and as the Liverpool man explained after the game, this made their forward play the key to victory.
"I think we knew Argentina were going to attack us. But today, we had to come out, play and attack," the star striker said. "In the second half, we were convincing in the beginning, and that gave us the win."
This writer predicted in the run-up to the last-four clash that Suarez and partner-in-crime Forlan needed to rediscover their best form after a slightly disappointing tournament thus far, and although the senior partner did not find the net, the pair proved that when firing on all cylinders, they provide Uruguay with lethal definition up-front.
Of course, it would be unjust to focus solely on the goalscorer when Uruguay impressed across the pitch. Their player of the tournament, Alvaro Pereira, was again brilliant, marauding up the left touchline all game and proving himself competent on the back-foot, adding an excellent performance to his assist. On the other flank, namesake Maxi was also flawless, while young Sebastian Coates proved himself a titan at the back replacing Mauricio Victorino despite receiving some heavy 'welcome to international football' hits from Juan Manuel Vargas and the uncompromising Peruvians.
The night, however, belonged to Suarez. The controversial hero of the 2010 World Cup has helped his side go one better in Argentina, and this time there will only be exalting praise in the morning newspapers. Unstoppable in the Netherlands and well on the way to becoming a hero on Merseyside, the 24-year-old now has every chance of being crowned king of South America in Sunday's showpiece fixture.