Buenos Aires, Jul 20 : Luis Suarez scored in the 53rd and 58th minutes to lead Uruguay past Peru 2-0 on Tuesday and into the Copa America final.
Uruguay, which reached the semifinals of last year's World Cup, will be looking for a record-15th Copa America title in Sunday's final against either Paraguay or Venezuela, which meet in the other semifinal Wednesday in Mendoza. The final will be played Sunday in Buenos Aires.
Peru, which was the worst team in South American World Cup qualifying just a year ago, has been one of the surprises of the South American championship and has played without its top two forwards Jefferson Farfan and Claudio Pizarro.
Suarez added some spark after a disappointing first half of few chances and little sustained possession.
“The first half was tough because we knew Peru would be very defensive,” Liverpool striker Suarez said. “We had to try to take advantage of some chance to score. The goal in the first few minutes was a big blow to Peru.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez took Suarez off after the two goals, saving him for Sunday.
“It is one thing with Suarez, it is another without him in the final,” Tabarez said. “He (Suarez) is a great forward, an elite player among forwards in the world. ... He often determines the outcome as he did today.”
Sergio Markarian, who was born in Uruguay, took over Peru's team a year ago and has improved it quickly.
“We played in this tournament against teams that had almost 100 percent of their players playing abroad,” Markarian said. “You could tell in their experience, sense of how to play the match. ... But we are working hard to get better.”
Diego Forlan set up the first goal in the 53rd, taking a long, low shot that Peru keeper Raul Fernandez dived to his left to save. But Suarez swarmed on the rebound and sent the ball into the open net from a sharp angle with Fernandez sprawled on the ground.
Suarez struck again five minutes later when he took a pass near midfield that split two defenders, then broke for goal. When Fernandez came out to stop him, he stepped around to his right and rolled the ball into an open net.
Peru's Juan Vargas was shown a red card in the 69th minute.
Peru had its best scoring chance in the 84th when Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera leaped high to stop Paolo Guerrero's long shot. The ball slipped from Muslera's hand, but he covered up quickly just inches from the goal line.
Uruguay, which is tied with Argentina with 14 Copa America titles, won its last Copa trophy in 1995. It was the runner-up in 1999, losing to Brazil which had won four of the last five Copa America titles entering this tournament.
Uruguay, a country of only 3.5 million, is fielding nearly the same team it did a year ago, when it also went further in the World Cup than South America's two giants.
Brazil and Argentina both lost on penalties in the Copa America quarterfinals. Brazil lost to Paraguay and Argentina went down against Uruguay.
Chile, which had been the best team in the group stage, was upset by Venezuela 2-1 in the quarterfinals.
Uruguay: Fernando Muslera, Maximiliano Pereira, Diego Lugano, Sebastian Coates, Martin Caceres, Alvaro Gonzalez, Walter Gargano (Sebatian Eguren, 70), Egidio Arevalo Rios, Alvaro Pereira, Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez (Abel Hernandez, 70).
Peru: Raul Fernandez, Alberto Rodriguez, Santiago Acasiete, Walter Vilchez, Giancarlo Carmona, Yoshimar Yotun (William Chiroque, 53), Adan Balbin (Josepmir Ballon, 45), Rinaldo Cruzado, Juan Vargas, Luis Adviincula (Carlos Lobaton, 60), Paolo Guerrero. AP