Relieved Pekerman applauds debutant Zapata
Jose Pekerman singled out debutant Duvan Zapata after Colombia earned a 1-1 draw with Peru to qualify for the World Cup on Tuesday.
Facing direct competition for the final South American qualifying spots, Colombia took the lead in Lima through James Rodriguez, before Paulo Guerrero's free-kick clinched a play-off berth for Peru.
For Colombia head coach Pekerman, Sampdoria forward Zapata was a stand-out, providing the guile to complement James and Radamel Falcao's craft.
"We again began to see Colombia in many aspects that we want to see, very solid in each line. With Duvan in his first game, we need him with his power," Pekerman said post-match.
"He did a great job and helped us a lot in completing the idea with Cuadrado, James and Falcao in attack."
The result could have beenÂ grave for Pekerman and his side if Chile and Peru secured wins on the final match day, but the 68-year-old maintained conceding twice late to Paraguay last Thursday was ultimately a positive.
"In the last few minutes, we were tougher for the experience against Paraguay and when the goal came it was not easy," he said.
"The game was tighter and any situation could complicate matters, but we took advantage of previous experience and the game lasted a little less.
"We have to enjoy this because we knew how to handle every moment, defiant and patient when it was necessary, overcoming injuries or poor performance."