Radamel Falcao has denied accusations he brokered a pact between his Colombia side and Peru in Tuesday's final CONMEBOL qualifier for the 2018 FIFA World Cup that saw the match end in a 1-1 draw that benefited both sides.
The AS Monaco striker said he tried to make it clear to Peru's players late in the Lima clash that, with Chile losing to Brazil, a draw would be enough to send Colombia through automatically and secure the hosts a play-off spot.
But he said both sides competed for the win throughout the 90 minutes despite a lack of attacking in the final stages, per Martyn Ziegler of The Times:
"We knew what was happening in the other matches, we were playing with [the knowledge of] the other results and in that moment [I tried] to transmit that [to Peru]. But I think Peru has been a worthy rival, they fought for 90 minutes just like us. The match was very tight. We suffered a lot but in the end we did it."
Television pictures showed Falcao, 31, approach several of Peru's players late in the fixture and speak to them with his hand covering his mouth, per football writer Mootaz Chehade:
Per Ziegler, various media outlets dubbed the incident the "Lima Pact."
Given how things finished in the CONMEBOL standings, had Colombia scored a late winner, Peru would have been condemned to sixth place behind Chile and their World Cup dreams would have been finished, per ESPN FC:
Meanwhile, had Colombia lost, they would have finished either in the fifth play-off place or had their qualifying hopes ended altogether, depending on the margin of defeat.
Peru's Renato Tapia also said he discussed the group situation with Falcao but his side were playing to win, per Fox Sports Asia:
"In the last five minutes, the Colombians approached us. They knew what the situation was in the other games. So we managed the game as we needed to… I spoke with Radamel, who told me we were both qualified (as things stood), but it's football and we play to win."
Back-to-back Copa America winners Chile were the side who missed out on the chance to qualify for Russia as a result of Colombia and Peru's draw.
They needed to beat Brazil in their final group clash to ensure passage to the World Cup, but they ended up losing 3-0 in Sao Paulo, the third defeat they suffered in their final four qualifiers.