Two second-half goals from the Liverpool man were enough to sink the Peruvian resistance, and send his side into the final of the competition for the first time since 1999
By Daniel Edwards in La Plata
Suarez hit twice in five minutes to all but settle the game in the opening stages of the second half, taking him level top-scorer for the tournament with Sergio Aguero, on three goals.
Peru’s task to turn their fortunes around was made even harder when captain Juan Manuel Vargas was expelled for a vicious elbow, but Sergio Markarian’s team will go out with their heads held high after a gutsy display.
The game started at a great pace, with neither side willing to give an inch in front of their vociferous supporters. The result was an impressive quantity of fouls, and Victor Yotun found his way into the referee’s notebook after just one minute.
Suarez found himself with an excellent chance after a free kick, but the Liverpool man shot high and wide. Raul Fernandez then turned himself into the Peru hero with 15 minutes gone, twice denying Alvaro Pereira at his feet when a goal looked certain.
Peru were by no means second-best, however, and halfway through the first period they had a glorious chance. Vargas’ cross flashed invitingly out of the reach of Fernando Muslera, but neither Paolo Guerrero nor Luis Advincula could get a touch with two despairing lunges and the ball ran harmlessly out of play.
Uruguay finished the half with a spell of decent pressure, but despite threatening a handful of times – principally from the right boot of Diego Forlan at dead-ball situations – they could not break down a determined Peru team.
Captain Diego Lugano thought that he had opened the scoring late in the first half, but play was called back for a foul on goalkeeper Fernandez to ensure the sides went down the tunnel with nothing to separate them.
The breakthrough came just after the interval, and it was to the joy of the Uruguayan section of the crowd. Forlan tried a speculative effort from outside the box, and when Fernandez spilled the ball it was Suarez who pounced first and chipped into the open net.
The striker was mobbed by team-mates on the side of the pitch, while the Uruguayan fans burst into song as a place in the final moved closer to becoming a reality.
The Liverpool man was on a roll, and slotted a second just minutes later to make it 2-0. Alvaro Pereira played Suarez in with a delightful pass, and he made no mistake in rounding the keeper and rolling the ball in to send the Uruguay faithful into ecstasy.
Already on the ropes, Peru’s chances took a further blow when Vargas was shown a red card for landing an elbow on Sebastian Coates. Peru kept trying, but could not find the means to break through the Uruguay back line, leaving Forlan and company to claim victory by a two-goal margin.
The win puts Oscar Tabarez’s team into the final for the first time since 1999. They will play the winner of Paraguay-Venezuela this Sunday in the Monumental.