When is a deal not a deal? Colombia and Peru deny pact despite slow finish to 2018 qualifier

By Andrew Warshaw
October 12 – Players from Colombia and Peru have denied they deliberately colluded to make sure both had a chance of qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

The two South American countries played out a 1-1 draw in their final qualifier which ensured Colombia’s place in the finals and sent Peru into an intercontinental playoff.

Colombian captain Radamel Falcao was seen in discussion with Peruvian players with his hand covering his mouth towards the end of the 1-1 draw in Lima. South American media published photos of the moment and dubbed it the ‘Lima Pact’.

The Monaco striker refuted claims of a pact but admitted both teams slowed the game down in the final stages.

“We knew what was happening in the other matches, we were playing with (the knowledge of) the other results and in that moment (I tried) to transmit that (to Peru),” he said. “Obviously, at the end, we knew what the other results were and you tell yourself: ‘calm it down a bit, we mustn’t take any risks’.”

Peru’s Renato Tapia also refuted claims of a pact. “In the last five minutes, the Colombians approached us. They knew what the situation was in the other games,” Tapia told Panamericana TV station. “So we managed the game as we needed to… I spoke with Radamel, who told me we were both qualified (as things stood), but it’s football and we play to win.”

Despite both sides playing keep ball without showing any desire to attack in the last few minutes, one of Peru’s coaching staff, Nolberto Solano, the former Newcastle United winger, added: “We needed to win, them too. What pact?”

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