Vargas: Peru united as semis loom

Peru midfielder Juan Manuel Vargas praised his side’s team spirit after they qualified for the Copa America semi-finals on Saturday.The 27-year-old Fiorentina star starred in the 2-0 extra-time victory over Colombia, scoring in the 112th minute to put the result beyond doubt.

The match had only gone to extra time after Radamel Falcao missed a second-half penalty, with goals from Vargas and Carlos Lobaton sealing victory for the Peruvians.

The win has set up an unlikely semi-final for Peru, with Vargas talking up their team spirit after the match.

“This group was very united on the pitch,” Vargas said.

“Now we have another, more important game (in the semi-finals) and we have four days to work at it and maintain what we have at the moment.”

“My goal came as a result of the work I put in on the pitch. But for me the important thing is to score the goal and help the team win.”

Peru manager Sergio Markarian echoed Vargas’ thoughts after the win and said that he has had to tinker with the team’s mentality, preferring results over style.

“We have good players,” Markarian said.

“Before, it was said that we play nice football but I have strived to make the team more efficient. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice style for substance.”

“The squad is united and this is critical. I have 22 players and none of them complained whether they played or not.”

“It is vital that we do everything we can from now until the semi-final. It will be difficult to recover.”