Peru signed off their World Cup in fairytale fashion as captain Paulo Guerrero scored in a 2-0 win to end Australia’s hopes of making the knockout phase for only the second time in their history.
The 34-year-old, who had a 14-month suspension after testing positive for cocaine – which he maintains came from contaminated tea – temporarily lifted two weeks before the tournament, pounced just after half-time for his 36th international goal.
That doubled the lead given to them by Andre Carrillo’s superb first-half strike as the Socceroos, who along with fellow Group C teams France and Denmark signed a letter supporting Guerrero which assisted his reinstatement, exited the competition with their opponents.
Carrillo’s goal was Peru’s first at a World Cup since Guillermo la Rosa’s against Poland at Spain 1982 and put them on course for their first win at the tournament in 40 years.
With Australia needing to win and hope France could defeat Denmark, the Socceroos began on the front foot but failed to create anything of note and the only player to make an impact was Mile Jedinak, who was booked after catching Christian Cueva on the shoulder with a high foot.
They were hit with a sucker punch after 18 minutes when Trent Sainsbury failed to deal with a ball over the top, allowing Guerrero to collect on the left of the area and pull back a cross for Carrillo to hammer home a low volley inside the far post.
The Benfica winger scored just twice in 32 appearances on loan at Watford last season.
Tom Rogic was involved in Australia’s best chances of the half, first dribbling his way through a crowd of defenders only to be denied by the outstretched foot of goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
The Celtic midfielder also started the move which saw Robbie Kruse’s near-post cross cut out by Anderson Santamaría as Mathew Leckie slid in for a certain equaliser.
Just before the interval Sainsbury headed an Aaron Mooy free-kick wide but Australia’s frustrations increased five minutes after the break when Guerrero hooked home his 36th international goal from Christian Cueva’s deflected through-ball.
Australia sent on 39-year-old Tim Cahill for his first action of the tournament, making him his country’s first player to appear at four World Cups, with young star Daniel Arzani also later added to the fray as Aziz Behich fired narrowly wide.
Goals have been a problem for the Socceroos – their only two in Russia have been penalties – and they failed to threaten Gallese.
The defeat, ultimately, was academic as they needed France to beat Denmark and that finished goalless.