BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Colombia beat Peru 3-2 on Friday in the third-place match at Copa America after striker Luis Díaz scored a pair of goals, one of them assisted by goalkeeper Camilo Vargas.
The final of the tournament between defending champion Brazil and Argentina will be played Saturday night at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Peru opened the scoring at the Mané Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia with Yoshimar Yotún in the 28th minute, with an assist from Christian Cueva that allowed him to beat Colombia’s Vargas with a soft lob.
Colombia equalized in the 49th minute after a free kick taken by Juan Guillermo Cuadrado went through the middle of the Peruvian wall and past goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
Colombia took the lead for the first time in the 66th minute after Vargas kicked the ball above opposite defenders to find Diaz face to face with Peru’s Gallese. The striker calmly hit it with his right foot to make it 2-1.
Italian-Peruvian striker Gianluca Lapadula leveled once again in the 82nd minute with a header after a corner.
Díaz scored again in added time with a shot from outside the box. The ball deflected on a Peru defender and beat Gallese.
The two goals on Friday illustrated Diaz’s change in his career fortunes. Only years ago he was playing for a team of Indigenous peoples in his native Colombia. The Porto striker is being considered as one of the best players of the current edition of Copa America, with four goals — as many as Lionel Messi ahead of Saturday’s final against Brazil.
“I have always dreamed about these wins, doing good things with the national team,” Díaz said after receiving his bronze medal. “But I never imagined to get all that I am living.”
The striker was born in the city of Barrancas, close to the border with Venezuela. He has roots in the Wayú ethnic group, although he doesn’t speak the language.
At the age of 18 in 2015, he played for Colombia in the Copa America of Indigenous Peoples. The team lost the final to Chile, but Díaz saw doors open for him after former footballer Carlos Valderrama recommended him to Junior Barranquilla.
Díaz helped the Junior team win the national title in 2018 and reach the Copa Sudamerican final. One year later he signed for Porto, where Colombians Falcao Garcia and James Rodríguez also played.
His goals on Friday were impressive — the first proved how much control he has with the ball until the finish, and the second showed the power in his left leg.
“We won because of Lucho,” Cuadrado said, in a reference to Diaz’ nickname. “He has an excellent level and he will achieve great things.”