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Peru beat New Zealand in play-off to complete line-up for Russia 2018 finals

November 16 – Peru became the final side to qualify for the World Cup with a 2-0 play-off victory over New Zealand on Wednesday as they reached the finals for the first time since 1982.

Two second-half goals clinched Peru’s fifth World Cup appearance, a personal triumph for Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca who was cruelly denied the chance to take part in the 1986 World Cup finals as a player for his country. Gareca did not make the final squad which, thanks largely to Diego Maradona, lifted the title that year in Mexico.

“Mission accomplished, thank you,” Gareca said after goals from Jefferson Farfan and Christian Ramos gave Peru a historic victory. “I am very emotional.”

Peru’s qualification had a stroke of luck about it when they were awarded a 3-0 win by FIFA despite losing 2-0 to Bolivia who were penalised for fielding an ineligible player. Yet they finished above back-to-back South American champions Chile in qualification and have been placed in pot 2 for the finals in Russia, the draw for which takes place on December 1.

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