VALPARAISO: A second-half goal by Bayern Munich star Claudio Pizarro fired Peru to a 1-0 victory over 10-man Venezuela on Thursday as “The Incas” bounced back from their agonizing opening defeat to Brazil.
Pizarro shot high into the roof of the net on 72 minutes after midfielder Christian Cueva burst into the box to set up the Bundesliga-based striker and settle a hardfought contest.
Venezuela, who shocked Colombia 1-0 in their opening game, were always struggling to keep the Peruvians in check following the first-half dismissal of Fernando Amorebieta for a wild stamp on Paolo Guerrero.
Victory was sweet for Peru, who conceded a goal in injury time in their cruel 2-1 defeat to Brazil on Sunday to lose their opening game in Group C.
Thursday s victory leaves the race for quarter-final places from the group wide open, with all four teams locked on three points heading into the final round of first phase fixtures.
Peru face Colombia in their final group game on Sunday while Brazil, downed by the Colombians in their second game, play Venezuela.
The flashpoint of a fractious first half came in the 30th minute when Amorebieta received his marching orders after the red mist descended in a clash with Guerrero.
Amorebieta, who finished last season on loan at English side Middlesbrough as they clinched promotion to the Premier League, stamped on Guerrero s thigh after a tangle between the two players on the left flank.
Mexican referee Roberto Orozco did not hesitate to produce the red card, while Guerrero was left nursing angry red marks imprinted on his thigh.
Until that moment Venezuela had looked the likelier to score.
Their best chance came after only seven minutes when Alejandro Guerra curled in a fine cross from the right met by Salomon Rondon, whose first-time volley from close-range was stopped by Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.