Peru beats Paraguay on penalties to reach Copa America semis

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Peru beat Paraguay 4-3 on penalties Friday to advance to the Copa America semifinals in the most thrilling tournament match so far.

Regular time at the Olimpico Stadium in Goiania finished 3-3 after a hard-fought match that included red cards to key players of both teams and two goals by Italian-born Gianluca Lapadula for Peru.

The decisive moment in the match came after Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese stopped Alberto Espinola in the shootout. Daniel Martinez and Braian Samudio had also missed for Paraguay. Santiago Ormeño and Christian Cueva were stopped by Paraguay's Antony Silva.

“This was an amazing match,” a tired Lapadula said after the shootout, in which he converted from the spot. “We can't choose adversaries, we have to think we are in the semifinal. Now we have to work to get there well.” Peru will face either Brazil or Chile, which also play Friday.

Paraguay opened the scoring in the 11th minute with Gustavo Gómez pushing the ball to the empty net after a corner.

Lapadula scored in the 21st and 40th minutes to put the Peruvians ahead. His team looked all but certain to go to the semifinal after Paraguayan defender Gómez was sent off in added time after a second yellow.

But Paraguay started the second half well and put pressure on Peru. Junior Alonso levelled the scoring in the 54th minute. Opportunities kept coming, especially in corners.

Peru's Yoshimar Yotun frustrated Paraguayans with a goal from the edge of the box 80th minute. But more twists were to come.

Five minutes later, Peruvian striker André Carrillo also received his second yellow. Paraguay decided to charge forward with a late goal by Gabriel Avalos leveling the match and sending it to penalties.

Peru will play its Copa America semifinal on Monday at the Nilton Santos Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Mauricio Savarese, The Associated Press

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