Paolo Guerrero assisted on Andre Carillo’s first-half goal and took a second for himself after halftime as Peru ended its first World Cup in 36 years on a bright note with a 2-0 victory over Australia on Tuesday in Group C play at Sochi.
It was the Incas’ first World Cup victory since defeating Iran to close group play in 1978. The South American side, well received for their positive play and vibrant fan base, finished third in the group with three points after 1-0 losses to both Denmark and France.
Australia, which needed a victory and some help from France that never came as Les Bleus and Denmark played to a 0-0 draw in the other Group C contest, finished at the bottom of the group on one point. The Socceroos failed to score in the run of play in Russia, getting both their goals via penalties from Mile Jedniak.
It was the third consecutive World Cup that Australia exited in group play, falling to 0-1-5 since beating Serbia to conclude group play in 2010.
Knowing they had to win, Australia pressed high and sought out an early goal. The Socceroos controlled play early but were failing to turn their energy into quality scoring chances as Tom Rogic and Aziz Behich had shots blocked by Peru’s defense.
But La Blanquirroja struck first on a lovely strike from Carillo on 18 minutes. Yoshimar Yotun started the play with a long ball into the penalty area Guerrero did well to hold up. He was able to fend off his defender before sending a pass across the pitch for Carillo, whose right-footed volley from 15 years fizzed past Mat Ryan and into the lower left corner.
Australia nearly found an equalizer in the 27th minute, but Rogic’s shot from 15 yards after some fancy footwork while surrounded by four defenders was stopped by Peru keeper Pedro Gallese. Rogic fashioned the Socceroos’ best chance seven minutes later, sending a through ball on the left to Robbie Kruse, whose cutback cross to a sliding Mathew Leckie was cleared in a last-ditch intervention by Christian Ramos.
Peru started the second half in a more compact formation to protect the lead but was able to double it five minutes after the restart. The play started on the left, where Christian Cueva’s shot inside the penalty area was deflected by an Australia defender. It went right to Guerrero, whose hooked left-footed shot from 10 yards beat Ryan inside the right post and added to his already record haul for Peru with his 35th international goal.
The Socceroos continued to press on looking for a lifeline as veteran and all-time leading scorer Tim Cahill made his first appearance at this World Cup, looking to score in his fourth different tournament. In the 59th minute, Behich put a shot wide of the right post after Aaron Mooy’s corner found its way to him 15 yards from goal.
Cahill got to the ensuing corner, but his shot from close range was blocked by Peru’s defense. In the 71st minute, Behich’s cross after a ball over the top from Rogic was just beyond Cahill’s reach while he was unmarked above the six-yard box. Jedinak struck a free kick over the bar in the 82nd minute, and Peru successfully saw out the match.
With no goals in the run of play, incoming Socceroos coach Graham Arnold will try to build around Mooy, Rogic and teenager Daniel Arzani in the midfield along with Leckie and Juric up front.