EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — David Ospina dived to his left, and Peru’s Miguel Trauco sent his penalty kick down the middle, a yard above the ground. The 27-year-old Colombian goalkeeper kicked out his trailing right leg, and booted the ball away to give Colombia an advantage in the shootout.
About two minutes later, Christian Cueva stood over the ball, looked skyward, exhaled deeply and skied La Blanquirroja’s final attempt over the crossbar.
With a 4-2 penalty-kicks victory after a 0-0 tie Friday night, Colombia reached the Copa America semifinals for the first time since 2004.
“We goalkeepers have the advantage that we can use any part of the body,” said Ospina, Petr Cech’s backup at Arsenal. “What matters is to stop the ball –with the ears, the nose, whatever. We goalkeepers have many resources.”
Third-ranked Colombia, which won its only Copa title at home in 2001, plays Wednesday in Chicago against the winner of Saturday night’s quarterfinal between Mexico and defending champion Chile. The United States faces Argentina or Venezuela at Houston on Tuesday in the first semifinal of the expanded tournament, played with 16 nations from throughout the Americas to celebrate the event’s 100th anniversary.
“We came into this match feeling a greater obligation,” Colombia coach Jose Peckerman said.
After Cueva’s miss, Colombian players ran out to celebrate with Ospina, who pumped both arms three times. Cueva turned and contorted his face in pain and covered it with both hands. Ospina walked over to join Peruvian players in consoling the 24-year-old midfielder.
“Being eliminated on penalties hurts even more,” said Peru coach Ricardo Gareca, who overhauled his team, and used a mostly young roster in the tournament. “It was the least pretty game of all we played.”
Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado and Dayro Moreno converted the first three penalty kicks for Colombia, beating goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. Raul Ruidiaz, Renato Tapia had made the first two for Peru.
Ospina played just four Premier League matches for the Gunners last season and a few others in the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup. His sister, Daniela, is married to Colombia star attacker James Rodriguez.
“David is a great player,” Rodriguez said. “I wish he stays on the national team for many years. I love David, and today he was great.”
Before a sellout crowd of 79,194 at MetLife Stadium, most wearing yellow in support of Colombia, Ospina also made an outstanding save in the second minute of second-half stoppage time. Cueva took just the second corner kick for Peru of the night and Ospina leaped to tip Christian Ramos’ header over the crossbar.
“We felt like we were the home team every time we played here,” Ospina said.
Ranked 48th, Peru had advanced from the group stage with a controversial Ruidiaz goal on a hand ball that knocked out Brazil.
Rodriguez had the best chance of the first half, taking a layoff from Edwin Cardona in the 22nd minute, dribbling through the midfield and curling a 23-yard right-footed shot that bounced off the inside of a post and bounded out. Carlos Bacca sent the rebound into the side netting.
Neither nation managed a shot on target in the first half, and each had just one on the second. Play became more open in the last 15 minutes as teams tried to avoid a shootout. Under the tournament’s rules, extra time is used only for the final, so the teams went straight to penalty kicks.
“We know that we can do better,” Peckerman said.
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