Pekerman proud of miraculous Colombia comeback

The 43-year-old was thrilled to see his side qualify for their first World Cup finals since 1998 after battling back from three goals down against Chile
Jose Pekerman was left stunned by his Colombia side's miraculous comeback as they booked their place in World Cup 2014 with a game to spare after a gripping 3-3 draw with Chile on Friday.

A penalty from Arturo Vidal and a double from Alexis Sanchez saw Jorge Sampaoli's side race into a 3-0 lead inside the opening half-hour, but a red card for Carlos Carmona on 66 minutes changed the complexion of the match as Teo Gutierrez and two spot kicks from Radamel Falcao completed a second-half salvo in Barranquila.

The result confirms Colombia's place at Brazil 2014, marking their first appearance at a World Cup finals since 1998, and Pekerman admitted it was hard to recall an international comeback to match that of his side on Friday.

"I was surprised by what happened to us [in the first half]," Pekerman told reporters after full-time. "It could have been due the pressure accumulated over a long time.

"I'm very proud of my team, I've rarely seen a national team in this kind of match come back from 3-0 down."

Chile coach Sampaoli, meanwhile, was aggrieved at the manner in which his side surrendered their early advantage despite the result leaving them needing just a point to secure qualification.

"I'm bitter about the final result, given how things went in the first half, and now I'm hopeful as we go to seek the match that will seal our qualification," he said.

Both Chile and Ecuador currently sit on 25 points in the Conmebol table ahead of their decisive clash on Tuesday, three points above Uruguay in fifth.