SAO PAULO (AP) — Edison Flores scored in the 85th minute and Peru beat Colombia 1-0 on Friday to earn a vital away win to take part in the World Cup for the second straight season.
Flores led his country to victory in the South American qualifiers for the third straight season. He beat David Ospina with a shot between the Colombian goalkeeper and the right post.
It was Peru’s fourth shot on goal for the game.
Peru play third-placed Ecuador again at home on Tuesday, and a win will secure a ticket to Qatar.
Coach Ricardo Gareca agrees Peru achieved an important win in Colombia but insists his side will play three finals before the end of qualifying.
“We know we depend on our performance and this team has to fight in every final. We have another one on Tuesday and we’re ready for that. We’re dealing with strong sides who need (points) too,” Gareca said. After Ecuador, Peru will face Uruguay away and Paraguay at home at the end of March.
Colombia missed 30 chances against Peru. Coach Reinaldo Rueda’s side have not scored in South America qualifiers for more than 450 minutes, prompting fans to boo after the final whistle.
“This series is inexplicable,” Rueda said in a press conference. “If they have chances to score, the gate will be closed. There are nine points left and we have to play for them.”
Next up is another tough game against second-placed Argentina on Tuesday.
Also on Friday, Salomon Rondón guided bottom-placed Venezuela to a 4-1 win over Bolivia. The striker scored in the 25th, 35th and 67th minutes.
Darwin Machis also scored for Venezuela. Bolivia scored their only goal from Bruno Miranda in the 38th minute.
South America has four direct World Cup spots, and the fifth-placed team plays an international playoff against an Asian rival for a spot. There are still three rounds to play.
Brazil (36 points) and Argentina (32) have already qualified. Ecuador has 24 points, four ahead of Peru. Uruguay are now fifth on 18 points, with Colombia a point behind. Chile has 16, one more than Bolivia. Paraguay has 13 points and Venezuela is up to 10.