Hamburg striker Guerrero seals third place for Peru in the Copa America with three clinical finishes in the second half as Venezuela end the match with ten menPaolo Guerrero hit a hat trick as Peru defeated Venezuela 4-1 in the Copa America third-place play-off.
Guerrero's second half treble, along with a first half goal by Willian Chiroque was too much for Venezuela, who stood little chance after Tomas Rincon's 58th minute dismissal.
The opening exchanges were lively and expansive, with Peru seeing more of the ball, and Venezuela looking dangerous on the counter attack. They nearly caught Peru out five minutes in, but Giancarlo Maldonado bent his shot just over the bar after finding space on the edge of the box.
Both teams attempted to maintain the high tempo of the game but were lacking in any real inspiration in the final third. Peru had their first genuine sight on goal 25 minutes in, when a quick one-two on the edge of the area released Chiroque behind the defence, but his effort from a tight angle was parried by Renny Vega. A few minutes later, Venezuela had a chance when Miku turned himself into space in the penalty area, but Raul Fernandez did well to tip his shot wide.
Despite Venezuela growing in confidence as the first-half neared its end, it was Peru who opened the scoring with a blistering counter-attack. With three minutes to go to the break, Chiroque picked up the ball inside his own half and broke with pace against the back-pedalling Venezuelan defence. He found the onrushing Guerrero on the right flank, continued his run into the box, and stroked the return pass home from two yards out.
Cesar Farias’ men were now in search of the equaliser, and nearly found it two minutes into the second-half. Miku showed some clever footwork to find a foot of space in the crowded Peruvian box, but his effort from six yards out went wide of the post.
Venezuela’s task was made that much harder after they were reduced to ten men in the 58th minute, when Tomas Rincon slid in with two feet on Carlos Lobaton. The tackle didn't look on the replays as harsh as Lobaton made it out to be, but referee Wilmar Roldan showed Rincon a straight red, his second dismissal of the tournament.
It got even worse for Venezuela as Peru doubled their advantage on 65 minutes. With massive gaps in the centre of the park following Rincon’s sending off, Guerrero advanced through the midfield and played Chiroque through on the right. This time Chiroque turned provider, laying the ball back his strike partner who had time to control the pass and smash it into the roof of the net.
Venezuela were now desperate, and summoned captain Juan Arango from the substitutes bench. And within 10 minutes of his introduction, the Borussia Monchengladbach man made his presence felt. A pinpoint through ball from Yohandry Orozco picked out Arango as he ran in behind the full back, and the substitute finished clinically into the near corner on 78 minutes to hand Venezuela a lifeline.
But it proved to be nothing more than fleeting hope for Farias’ men, and Guerrero sealed the win for Peru as the clock moved into injury time. The Hamburg striker showed great skill to evade his marker at the top of the box, and finished with aplomb past the helpless Vega.
Two minutes later, with virtually the last kick of the game, Guerrero completed his hat-trick with a simple finish after once again finding space at the heart of the Venezuelan defence to seal third place for Peru in the 2011 Copa America, their best finish since 1983 when they also came in third.
For Venezuela, despite the defeat, this was their most successful campaign in the Copa America.