Peru striker Paolo Guerrero overtook Teofilo Cubillas as his country’s top goal scorer in Seattle on Saturday, scoring a diving header to sink Haiti 1-0 in their Copa America Centenario clash.
Guerrero, a talismanic figure for the Peruvians who was tournament top scorer in both the 2011 and 2015 editions of the Copa America, pounced on 61 minutes to break Haiti’s resistance.
The 32-year-old striker, who now plays for Flamengo in Brazil, powered home a header from Edison Flores’ cross as Peru opened their Group B campaign with a win at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks NFL team.
The win was just about deserved for Peru, who created the better chances but struggled to break down a well-organised Haiti defense.
After a slow start, Peru could have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time when Guerrero headed into the path of Flores.
Flores burst onto the ball and unleashed a fierce shot which cannoned back off the foot of the upright as Haiti escaped.
Peru increased the tempo in the second half and only a fine block by Haiti goalkeeper and captain Johny Placide denied Renzo Revoredo in the 59th minute.
That chance should have served as a warning for Haiti, but two minutes later Peru took the lead with Guerrero’s goal when Flores found space down the left and curled in an inviting cross for the former Bayern Munich player to head home.
Peru looked to be cruising to three points but had a scare in the dying seconds when Haiti’s Kervens Belfort somehow headed wide from close range with the goal at his mercy.
Haiti face Brazil in their next game on Wednesday while Peru take on South American rivals Ecuador.