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Ecuador hit back for 2-2 draw to keep Copa hopes alive

Jun 8, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; A general view of fans cheering during the first half of group play stage of the 2016 Copa America Centenario at University of Phoenix Stadium between Ecuador and Peru. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; A general view of fans cheering during the first half of group play stage of the 2016 Copa America Centenario at University of Phoenix Stadium between Ecuador and Peru. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

REUTERS - Ecuador celebrated their comeback for a 2-2 draw with Peru at the Copa America Centenario as if they had won after keeping their quarter-final hopes alive.

Peru raced into a two-goal lead after 13 minutes of Wednesday’s Group B match in Glendale, Arizona before striker Enner Valencia pulled one back in the 39th and Miller Bolanos equalised in the 48th.

Having drawn 0-0 with Brazil in their opening Group B match, Ecuador’s hopes of a place in the quarter-finals depend on beating modest Haiti and the result between the Brazilians and Peruvians in Sunday’s last group matches.

Brazil and Peru have four points with the Brazilians top of the group on goal difference after a 7-1 rout of Haiti on Wednesday. Ecuador have two points and Haiti none.

“We faced a great rival, we managed to recover from 2-0 down and we took a point that’s going to be very important,” Valencia told reporters.

“We started out a bit asleep in the first half, then we controlled the match and at least got a draw,” he added after the "clasico" between the South American neighbours.

“We made two mistakes we should never have made at the start of the match,” winger Jefferson Montero said. “The Ecuador of the first half is not us but in the second half we improved.”

Christian Cueva put Peru in front in the fifth minute and Edison Flores increased their lead in the 13th from Paolo Guerrero’s headed lay-off.

Valencia volleyed a superb goal six minutes before halftime to get Ecuador back into the match.

Bolanos, controversially denied a goal in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Brazil when the linesman wrongly judged the ball to have gone over the byline before it was crossed, levelled the score in the 48th from Montero’s pass.

Peru’s coach Ricardo Gareca rued the loss of two points that would have secured his team’s passage into the quarter-finals.

“When you have control of the game you have to be able to counter your rivals,” he said.

Ecuador defender Gabriel Achilier will miss the match against Haiti in East Rutherford after being sent off in added time following a second yellow card for a foul on Guerrero.

(Reporting by Javier Leira; Writing by Rex Gowar)

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