Peru's Ruidiaz scores controversial late goal to dump eight-time champs Brazil out of Copa America in Rd 1
Foxborough (USA): If Diego Maradona termed his winning goal against England at Mexico '86 the Hand of God, Peru's Raul Ruidiaz said his late goal that dumped Brazil out of the Copa America on Sunday was: "Thanks to God."
touch ‘n go: Peru’s Raul Ruidiaz (centre) appears to touch the ball with his hand as he scores against Brazil in the 75th minute of their Copa America Centenario Group B match in Massachusetts yesterday. pic/afp
The Copa America Centenario erupted into controversy after a refereeing blunder sent Brazil crashing to a 0-1 defeat against Peru — and out of the tournament.
The defeat left Brazil struggling to digest their worst performance in the Copa America since 1987, the last occasion the five-time world champions failed to make it past the group stage.
Peru's Ruidiaz celebrates after scoring a late winner against Brazil in the Copa America on Sunday. Pic/AFP
Brazil, needing only a draw to qualify for the quarter-finals as winners of Group B, looked to be on course for a place in the last eight with 15 minutes to go against Peru. But a rare foray into Brazilian territory from Peru ended with Raul Ruidiaz bundling in Andy Polo's cross from the byline, appearing to use his arm to score. Ruidiaz wheeled away to celebrate and Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha signalled for the goal.
Brazil's players protested furiously, swarming around Cunha in a bid to persuade the official to reverse his decision. The protests appeared to have swayed Cunha, who looked to be frantically checking with the fourth official via his headpiece to determine whether the goal should stand. Yet after a chaotic delay of around four minutes — with players from both sides surrounding the referee —Cunha ruled it a goal. Multiple replays from different angles, however, showed that Ruidiaz had used his arm to knock the ball into the net past Brazil keeper Alisson.
Peru will now play Colombia in the quarter-finals after finishing top of Group B.
Brazil coach Dunga slammed the decision to allow Peru's goal. "I am sure the Brazilian fans saw the game and saw how Brazil was eliminated. There is no way to anticipate imponderables.
"The team was not eliminated by anything to do with football. It was such a clear handball, but we have no influence over the referee. With all the technology, with all the camera angles, what causes me confusion is how we can make mistakes that are so clear, so evident," said Dunga.
Ruidiaz however, was convinced he'd scored legally. "It was a quick move and it hit me in the thigh. I don't understand why there was controversy, because it was a clean play," he said.
It was a lacklustre tournament for Brazil who first drew 0-0 with Ecuador and then beat the tournament's weakest team, Haiti, 7-1.