David Ospina's indirect free kick mistake aids Peru's World Cup hopes
Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina says he did not expect Peru's indirect set-piece equaliser to be fired at goal by Paolo Guerrero as Colombia were held to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday.
The outcome in Lima allowed Colombia to qualify directly for the 2018 World Cup, while securing Peru fifth place and a playoff spot against New Zealand. Chile, who lost 3-0 at Brazil, ended up in sixth place -- level on 26 points with Peru -- and saw their World Cup qualifying bid end.
Peru's equaliser -- following James Rodriguez's opener -- came about when Guerrero struck an indirect free kick at goal that Ospina got a touch on as he failed to keep it out.
Given rules state that the ball must be touched by a second player before a goal can be scored from an indirect set piece, had Ospina allowed it simply to hit the back of the net, the goal would not have stood.
Asked about the episode, Ospina told Movistar Peru after the game: "It was supposedly going to be two touches, he took it and Guerrero hit it well."
TV commentators from Peru were heard pointing out several times during their commentary that the free kick Guerrero was about to fire at goal was indirect, but they later celebrated as they were stunned that Ospina had touched the ball.
"He touched it!" they said. "He touched it! It's a goal!"
TV images then showed Colombia winger Juan Cuadrado requesting to the referee to have the goal disallowed, but the official touched his arm in order to explain that Ospina had made contact with the ball before it went in.
While Ospina will return to Arsenal this week looking ahead to next summer's World Cup, his Gunners teammate and Chile star Alexis Sanchez will not. Had Ospina not made the mistake for the equaliser, Sanchez and Chile would be in the playoff instead of Peru.
Colombia, who had lost 2-1 at home to Paraguay last week, needed a point in Peru to book their ticket for Russia.
"We are delighted to have reached the World Cup," Ospina said. "We've suffered, we missed an opportunity at home [against Paraguay] and today we showed that this team can do great things."
Ospina praised Peru, who had gone unbeaten in their last six qualifiers and still have a chance of a first World Cup appearance since 1982. They will take on Oceania champions New Zealand in a two-legged playoff in November.
"The truth is that we knew we were facing an excellent national team that had a very good qualifying campaign," he said. "Now they have the opportunity to reach the World Cup and they deserve it. The more South American national teams that are there, the better."
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.