Colombia head coach Reinaldo Rueda has showered plaudits on his players after they finished third at this year’s Copa America.
A 25-yard injury-time winner from Luis Diaz saw Colombia edge Peru 3-2 in the Copa America third-place play-off on Friday night.
Yoshimar Yotun gave Peru the lead just before half-time with a neat finish into the bottom corner before Juventus winger Juan Cuadrado equalised with a free-kick.
Diaz put Colombia 2-1 ahead midway through the second half Peru continued to battle and they did level again with Gianluca Lapadula scoring in the 82nd minute with a near-post header from a corner to set up a tense finale.
And with the game seemingly set for extra-time, Diaz ensured Colombia would clinch third place thanks to a 94th minute winner.
It is Colombia’s fifth third-place win in the history of the tournament.
They have won the tournament once back in 2001 and finished as runners-up once.
And speaking in the post-match press conference, Rueda urged his players to keep getting stronger.
“The great gain is to have recognized this group more internally, to have valued their football, professional and human conditions. It is very gratifying to meet such a noble and receptive group, to have endured these 45 days without a single negative situation.
“It was a Copa América unprecedented, of the highest level, with very well structured teams. This is a gain for what follows and we need to reinforce the good that has been done and we want to invite the players to continue strengthening. ”
Rueda added: “It is very commendable for the ability of all the participating teams and because it was something we wanted to achieve with this group. It was a great experience because nine games were accumulated in less than two months, with that intensity and the response of the players. Fortunately, we were not seriously injured. ”
In addition to the injuries of Yairo Moreno and Matheus Uribe, which did not allow them to continue in competition, two members of the team lost loved ones.
“We had the loss of Rafael Borré’s mother and Frank Fabra’s father, but the group supported them and everything was assimilated very well. There was a lot of camaraderie and mystique, and as a result of that the Copa América is dismissed with a good victory.
“The essence of our players, caste, race and talent, makes them pro-active. Sometimes overconfidence makes the rival take confidence and that complicates situations. The group showed in many games that it has an intensity and great soccer rebellion and as a result of those the results that were obtained.”
And on his views on Luis Díaz: “the collective, the ability and the strength with which he holds the ball. May God preserve it for us and we may enjoy it for long time.”