SANTIAGO: Eduardo Vargas scored twice as Chile downed fierce rivals Peru 2-1 here on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) to reach the Copa America finals for the first time in nearly 30 years.
Vargas, who endured a miserable season on loan at relegated English Premier League side Queens Park Rangers, lashed in a stunning 64th-minute strike as the hosts advanced to the finals for the first time since 1987.
Vargas had given Chile a controversial lead after 42 minutes, prodding home from close range after the referee’s assistant failed to spot a fractional offside.
Peru, who played most of the match with 10 men after Carlos Zambrano was sent off for a reckless challenge on Charles Aranguiz after 20 minutes, came back bravely to force an equalizer through a Gary Medel own goal in the 60th minute.
But Vargas, who also had a legitimate goal wrongly ruled out for offside early in the second half, restored Chile’s lead with a contender for goal of the tournament.
The 25-year-old picked up a loose ball in midfield, surged forward and unleashed a ferocious dipping 30-yard effort that flew into the top corner past Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
The latest installment of Chile and Peru’s long football rivalry — known as the “Clasico del Pacifico” — burst into life after only four minutes, when Chile’s Arturo Vidal tangled angrily with Zambrano.
The match turned in the 20th minute after Zambrano’s dismissal.
Sensing Peru’s vulnerability, Chile turned up the pressure. Three minutes before half-time, though, Peru’s resistance broke when Sanchez’s cross from the left bounced back off the inside of the upright for Vargas to bundle home from close range.
The goal was harsh on Peru, though, as replays showed Vargas was fractionally offside when Sanchez crossed.
Chile sought to press home their advantage after the break and Vargas was unlucky to see a superb volleyed goal ruled out.
Peru clawed their way back into the contest on the hour mark when Guerrero released Advincula down the right. Peru’s celebrations were shortlived though when Vargas crashed in his winning goal four minutes later. Chile will now play the winner of Tuesday’s semifinals between Argentina and Paraguay as they chase a first ever Copa America crown after 99 years of failure.