In a highly entertaining match that had to be one of the best of the Copa America Centenario so far, neighbors Ecuador and Peru battled one another to a 2-2 draw Wednesday night at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The result kept Peru from clinching a spot in the tournament's quarterfinals, as they fell into a first-place tie in Group B with Brazil, with Brazil holding the advantage on goal difference following their 7-1 rout of Haiti earlier in the evening.
After starting Esteban Dreer over a banged-up Alexander Dominguez in the 0-0 draw against Brazil Saturday, Ecuador coach Gustavo Quinteros opted to go with Dominguez against Peru, which would have advanced to the quarterfinals with a victory. Not that it necessarily made a difference, but Ecuador quickly found themselves behind on goals by Christian Cueva in the fifth minute, and Edison Flores in the 13th.
But Ecuador got one back before halftime when Enner Valencia chested a cross from Antonio Valencia and hammered home a side volley in the 39th minute. They tied it just on the other side of halftime when Miller Bolanos tapped in a sweet feed from Jefferson Montero into a wide open net in the 48th.
Ecuador had the better of play for most of the second half, but Peru nearly stole the win in the final minute of stoppage time when Raul Ruidiaz fired just wide on a play-on fast break on which Ecuador's Gabriel Achilier was shown a second yellow card for a deliberate foul.
- 5' - PER - Christian Cueva (Paolo Guerrero)
- 13' - PER - Edison Flores (Paolo Guerrero)
- 39' - ECU - Enner Valencia (Antonio Valencia)
- 48' - ECU - Miller Bolanos (Jefferson Montero, Christian Noboa)
- Full Box score
- OPPORTUNITY LOST: Peru had a chance to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals and that looked a likely scenario when the Incas took a 2-0 lead before the game was 15 minutes old. But after Ecuador's comeback, Peru's hopes of advancing now are in trouble. Peru plays Brazil in its final game needing a win -- or an Ecuador loss to winless Haiti -- to assure their passage. If Brazil and Peru play to a draw and Ecuador beat Haiti by more than one goal, the three teams will all have five points and Brazil and Ecuador would advance on goal difference.
- HAITI COULD PAY THE PRICE: Ecuador will play Haiti before Brazil meets Peru, meaning Ecuador will be trying to run up the score against Haiti to assure themselves a quarterfinal berth in the event goal difference comes into play. Since Peru only beat Haiti by the score of 1-0, Ecuador will be looking to win Sunday by as multiple goals. And they would need to win by six goals to tie Brazil for first place in Group B.
- SMART RED: Sometimes, taking a red card is the right thing to do, and Ecuador's Gabriel Achilier got a hug from his goalkeeper after he committed a foul that he knew would get him sent off in the final minute of stoppage time. Peru was breaking and Achilier, who was already on a yellow card, tripped up Peru's Christian Cueva at midfield, an automatic yellow card offense. The referee allowed play to go on, and Peru got a shot at goal that just went wide right before the final whistle. Technically, Ecuador finished the game with 10 men, but the alternative could have been giving up the winning goal instead.
- ECU: Sunday, June 12 vs. Haiti (6:30 pm ET, FS2, Univision, UDN)
- PER: Sunday, June 12 vs. Brazil (8:30 pm ET, FS1, Univision, UDN)