Haiti 0, Peru 1 | 2016 Copa America Centenario Match Recap
In the end, the result was what many expected, but Haiti did their part to keep the match close by thwarting chance after chance in Seattle, settling for a 1-0 loss to Peru to open Group B play in Copa America.
It took Peru until the 61st minute to score, but it was no surprise to see it come from striker Paolo Guerrero, the leading scorer of the last two Copa America tournaments. In the 61st minute, winger Edison Flores lofted a floating ball to Guerrero racing at goal. Guerrero launched into a diving header that slammed past goalkeeper Johny Placide.
The pairing of Guerrero and Flores combined for Peru's best chance of the first half in the 45th minute. With his back to a defender, Guerrero chested down a ball and volleyed a lay-off to Flores across the goal area. Flores' one-time shot hammered off the inside of the post and out.
Haiti had their chances to equalize, notably with a cruel miss in the 94th minute, which ended up being the final play before the full-time whistle. On a free kick, substitute forward Kervens Belfort made a run at goal unmarked, but sent his header just wide of goal. Peru had double the shots of Haiti, including four more on goal.
CAN HAITI OVERCOME?: For both Peru and Haiti, the pressure was on to try to grab three points as a contingency before facing heavyweights Brazil and Ecuador next in Group B. Peru succeeded and Haiti's Copa America path instantly became that much more difficult. Haiti was always considered the minnow of the group, and with their most winnable match on paper ending in a loss, now it would take a major upset or two for Haiti to make it into the knockout round.
A PERUVIAN LEGEND: Paolo Guerrero was Copa America's top goalscorer twice before, and though we're only one match into this edition of the tournament, he did claim an even bigger record on Saturday: Guerrero became the top goalscorer in Peru history. And, well, the goal itself wasn't so bad either:
THAT TOURNAMENT FEELING: The group stage matches of Copa America may lack the "clash of the titans"-type battles and the drama of the knockout rounds, but there is something about an international tournament that always makes for a special, celebratory atmosphere. Sure, it was sweltering hot in Seattle and there isn't a deep connection between the city and the two countries playing there, but some fans got very into it and reminded us why international tournaments are so fun:
- HAI: Wednesday, June 8 vs. Brazil at 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
- PER: Wednesday, June 8 vs. Ecuador at 10 p.m. ET (FS2)