MASSACHUSETTS: Substitute Raul Riudiaz’s hotly disputed goal earned Peru a shock 1-0 win over Brazil in Foxborough, Massachusetts on Sunday, the defeat knocking the five-times world champions out the Copa America at the group stage.
The Peruvian forward appeared to use his hand to score from close range with 16 minutes remaining and after a long delay while the referee consulted with his assistant while taking advice through an earpiece, he allowed the goal to stand.
Television pictures showed Ruidiaz grinning after the goal had been awarded but the Brazilian players were apoplectic with rage at a decision that sent them tumbling out of the tournament before the knockout stages for the first time since 1987.
“We saw that the ball hit his hand but you can’t complain,” Brazil centre half Miranda told reporters.
“(The referee) said he discussed it with four officials and that they didn’t see the handball.
“Brazil tried from the first minute to score but the ball didn’t want to go in unfortunately, and that’s football. If you don’t score you pay for it.”
The result lifted Peru to the top of Group B and eliminated Brazil, who dropped down to third place behind Ecuador in the tournament being played in the United States to celebrate the centenary of governing body CONMEBOL and the Copa America.
Following the conclusion of the first two groups in the 16-team competition, Peru will play Colombia in the quarter-finals in New Jersey on Friday, while the host nation will take on Ecuador in Seattle a day earlier.
Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina have already qualified from the other two groups with a match to play with either Chile or Panama joining them in the quarter-finals pending the result of their showdown on Tuesday.
The loss was a harsh one for Brazil, who knew a draw would have been enough to see them advance and were generally the better team without ever really threatening the Peruvian goal.
Peru upped the tempo after a lacklustre first half and the controversial decider came after 74 minutes when Andy Polo whipped in a low cross that fell just behind the onrushing Ruidiaz inside the six-yard box.
The Universitario player appeared to handle the ball into the net to the immediate anger of the Brazilian players, who surrounded the Uruguayan referee along with several Peruvians before the official opted to give the goal after a long delay.
Elias then missed a golden opportunity to equalise for Brazil in injury time but he failed to connect properly with only the goalkeeper to beat.
The result came just hours after Ecuador hammered a hapless Haiti 4-0 to guarantee their quarter-final berth.
Enner Valencia opened the scoring after 10 minutes and Jaime Ayovi doubled Ecuador’s advantage nine minutes later after a swift counter-attack.
Christian Noboa made it 3-0 with a well-placed shot after 56 minutes before Antonio Valencia tapped home the fourth after another break on 77 minutes.
The result left Haiti, who were competing in the competition for the first time, bottom of the group on no points and a goal difference of minus 11.