Guerrero hat-trick sends Peru into Copa America semis

Temuco (Chile), June 26 (IANS) Paolo Guerrero bagged a hat-trick as Peru defeated Bolivia 3-1 to advance to the Copa America semi-finals here.

The former Bayern Munich striker netted twice in three minutes in the first half before adding a third in the 74th minute. Marcelo Moreno then converted a penalty for Bolivia six minutes from time on Thursday, reports Xinhua.

Peru will now face hosts Chile in Santiago on Monday with a place in the final at stake while Bolivia have been eliminated from the tournament.

After the match Guerrero praised the impact of Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca, who assumed control of Peru’s national team in March.

“It’s a process that is going well and we are learning from him. Few people had confidence in us before the competition began but we are showing that we want to improve and we hope that this is just the beginning. The game against Chile will be tough because they are hosts but we are going to prepare as best we can,” Guerrero said.

Peru started the match on the offensive with Guerrero forcing a save from Romel Quinonez and then Claudio Pizarro shooting just wide of the target. Guerrero gave Peru the lead after 20 minutes by meeting a Juan Vargas cross from the left with a bullet header into the top corner.

Two minutes later the Flamengo forward struck again, running onto Christian Cueva’s through ball and calmly slotting past Quinonez.

Bolivia’s best chances of the first half came from Moreno. The former Wigan Athletic striker hit a rasping 25-yard drive that went just over the bar before forcing a diving save from Pedro Gallese with a header.

But Peru continued to press but were unlucky not to enter the interval with a greater lead after Jefferson Farfan twice hit the woodwork.

Bolivia emerged from the break with renewed verve. Alcides Pena’s header from a Martin Smedberg set piece went straight to Gallese and then Alejandro Chumacero fired a shot over from distance.

Guerrero made it 3-0 in the 74th minute, intercepting a Danny Bejarano pass before firing a low shot past Quinonez.

Bolivia pulled a goal back via Moreno’s spot-kick after substitute Damian Lizio was tripped by Luis Advincula.

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