LIMA, Peru (AP) — As Peru’s president promised, the South American country will have its soccer-dedicated holiday on Thursday.
Peru beat New Zealand 2-0 on Wednesday night to win a two-leg playoff and earn the 32nd and last spot in the World Cup field in Russia.
The last time the Peruvians reached the World Cup was in 1982 in Spain.
After a goalless draw in New Zealand on Saturday, a more vibrant Peru showed up at the Estadio Nacional.
Despite the absence of their main striker Paolo Guerrero, who has been suspended by FIFA on doping suspicions, the Peruvians controlled the match from the start.
At 28 minutes, striker Jefferson Farfan opened the scoring from the edge of the box burying the ball into the New Zealand net. In tears, the Lokomotiv Moscow forward showed the shirt of his boyhood friend Guerrero to the crowd.
New Zealand’s attempt to react and qualify for its third World Cup in history never got even close to the Peruvian goalkeeper.
Then at 65 minutes, defender Christian Ramos netted the second after a mistake from New Zealand’s defense on a corner.
Peru’s qualification put the South American team in a World Cup pot with Spain, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and Croatia.
The final draw of the Russia World Cup will be on Dec 1t at the Kremlin in Moscow and groups will be formed with one team from each of the four pots.
A still tearful Farfan said after the match that his team had “to endure a lot of nonsense until we got here.”
“I dedicate this to Paolo, I promised him we would deliver,” Farfan said. Guerrero scored six goals for Peru in South American qualifiers.
Peru finished fifth in South American World Cup qualifying.
In his press conference Peru coach Ricardo Gareca preferred to thank the team’s psychologist for the result. “He was very important for us at this turbulent moment,” the Argentinian coach said.
Midfielder Christian Cueva, who assisted Farfan in the first goal and took the corner kick that led to the second one, said Peru deserves the holiday promised by President Pedro Paulo Kuczynski.
“It is a wait of 35 years, we didn’t deserve to be away from the World Cup for so long,” Cueva said. “All Peruvians should take this Thursday to celebrate as never before.”
Kuczynski used Twitter to ask for moderation in the festivities on the holiday.
“Thanks to our warriors for giving us this joy. Let’s celebrate with responsibility,” he said.