Striker Paolo Guerrero scored his 27th career goal for Peru’s national team against Venezuela to surpass Teofilo Cubillas as Peru’s top scorer of all time.
Peru tied Venezuela 2-2 in a World Cup qualifying match Thursday night at Lima’s National Stadium. Venezuela was the only team ranked lower than Peru in FIFA’s South American division, CONMEBOL, heading into tonight’s game. Peru needed a win over the bottom-ranked Venezuela to boost its confidence in its quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
However the Venezuelan midfielder Romulo Otero scored the first goal in a penalty kick at 30 minutes. Mikel Villanueva gave Venezuela a 2-0 lead with a goal off a corner which quieted the National Stadium soon after the beginning of the second half.
Guerrero renewed hope in the Peruvian fan base when he scored in the 60th minute. Peru kept the pressure on Venezuela’s defense throughout the rest of the second half, with Guerrero bouncing a header off the goal post, in a close game which took the drama into stoppage time.
With just one minute left in the game, two Universitario de Deportes players who replaced historic Peruvian stars made the play to tie the game. Striker Raul Ruidiaz scored a header off a perfect pass from Edison Flores. Both players had just replaced Claudio Pizarro and Jefferson Farfan.
“You can say we did not play well, but you also have to recognize that we never gave up. There are young people who entered the second half and there was the option to score,” Guerrero told Andina after the game.
But while the game was ultimately a disappointment for a Peruvian squad widely considered to be better than Venezuela, the night was historic for Peru’s most prominent goal scorer, Paolo “The Predator” Guerrero. His goal put his total for the national team at 27, one more than Teofilo “Nene” Cubillas.
“I will go watch how Guerrero beats my record and I will be the first one to congratulate him,” Cubillas told Libero before tonight’s game.
Guerrero was nominated for the Ballon d’Oro award for best soccer player of 2015 for his performance in the Copa America, in which he tied Chilean Eduardo Vargas for most goals in the tournament. “The Predator” notched a hat trick against Bolivia in Peru’s ultimate third-place finish in the Latin American competition.
Peru will face Uruguay in Montevideo next Tuesday.
Watch highlights from tonight’s game below.