Peru did not buckle under pressure - Gareca

Peru head coach Ricardo Gareca backed Christian Cueva to bounce back from his penalty miss following their defeat to Denmark.

Peru coach Ricardo Gareca keeping an eye on his team's performance against Denmark.   -  Getty Images

Ricardo Gareca insisted the presence of tens of thousands of Peru fans did not put his side under extra pressure after they lost 1-0 to Denmark at the World Cup.

Peru's players appeared to be under strain at the end of a dramatic first half at Mordovia Arena, where an emotional Christian Cueva had to be consoled by his team-mates after missing a penalty.

Denmark's Yussuf Poulsen scored the winning goal after 59 minutes and, despite creating more chances than their opponents, the South Americans failed to find an equaliser and will go into their second Group C game against France with no points.

FIFA revealed that more than 40,000 World Cup tickets were sold in Peru and Gareca's side were backed by a partisan crowd, but he claimed his players were not adversely affected, saying: "We didn't expect so many people to come and watch us but they didn't put pressure on us.

"We were playing against a truly great team with very, very good players and the atmosphere in the stadium has nothing to do with what happened on the pitch.

"We had all our supporters there and that doesn't mean we were under pressure – it means we feel motivated to perform. We've always had the mass of our support everywhere, in qualifying and here as well."

The Argentine coach backed Cueva to bounce back from his disappointing evening and said he was impressed by the way the Sao Paulo midfielder performed in the second half.

"At half-time we told him that he had to keep playing strong," Gareca told reporters. "People make mistakes and we have to try and turn things around. He has the character to do that.

"After the penalty he was asking for the ball, participating in play – that's the only way. You have to try and overcome this kind of adversity. He is a very strong player with a very strong character and mindset."

Gareca also defended his decision not to field all-time leading goal-scorer Paolo Guerrero in his starting line-up after the 34-year-old striker had a drug ban paused so that he could play at the World Cup.

"That's the decision we made and we decided to stick with a side that has been playing a long time together," said Gareca.

"Paolo was the last one to come into the squad and I think he did very well when he came on. He was fast and up to the pace of everyone else."

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