GOIANIA, Brazil (Reuters) -Peruvian-Italian striker Gianluca Lapadula inspired Peru to a second half revival as they fought back from a two-goal half time deficit to emerge with a 2-2 draw against Ecuador in the Copa America on Wednesday.
The result means both teams can still progress into the last eight of the 10-team South American tournament. With one game left for each, Ecuador have two points from three games and Peru have four.
Four of the top five teams in each group qualify for the quarter-finals.
Ecuador is one of only two teams never to have won the Copa America and although they started the match in the Brazilian city of Goiania without their suspended striker Enner Valencia they took the game to Peru and were 2-0 up at half time.
Renato Tapia turned Pervis Estupinan’s cross into his own net midway through the first half and then Ayrton Preciado grabbed a second on the stroke of half time when he got on the end of a Damian Diaz free kick from the right and stabbed the ball past a helpless Pedro Gallese.
Peru were also missing a talismanic striker but Lapadula, the Italian-Peruvian who appeared for Italy before choosing the country of his mother’s birth, stepped up to help them forget the absence of Paolo Guerrero.
Lapadula turned in a fine second half performance and opened his international account four minutes after the break when he took a perfectly weighted pass from Christian Cueva and fired home.
Five minutes later Lapadula turned creator. He ran on to a superb pass from Sergio Pena and fed Andre Carrillo for the equaliser.
Both sides had chances to grab a winner but it was not to be and so Group B will go down to the wire in Sunday’s final round of matches.
Peru play Venezuela and Ecuador face group leaders and host nation Brazil, who play Colombia later on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie, editing by Ed Osmond and Richard Pullin)