It’s moments like these that make you fall in love with soccer all over again. Moments like these that remind you of the emotional attachment billions of people around the world have to a simple, beautiful game.
Peru hasn’t been to a World Cup since 1982, but all that will change after La Blanquirroja beat New Zealand 2-0 in the second leg of their World Cup intercontinental qualifying playoff on Wednesday evening. The 2-0 aggregate victory sent Peru to the 2018 World Cup, ending a 36-year wait.
When the final whistle blew in Lima, the pure elation and tears of joy from all Peruvians on the field and in the stands showed exactly what qualifying for the World Cup means to the country.
Incredibly, Peruvian celebrations actually caused a seismological event, with a seismology detector in Chile sending out alerts of a possible earthquake at the exact moment of this goal from Jefferson Farfan, which put Chile ahead 1-0 in the 28th minute.
— Sismologia Chile (@SismologiaCh) November 16, 2017
Christian Ramos added a goal in the 65th minute and Peru became the 32nd and final team to qualify for the World Cup.
During and after the match, the jubilation outside Estadio Nacional was just as raucous, where fans set off fireworks and danced in the streets.
World Cup fever has gripped the people of Peru.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 16, 2017
Fans celebrate as Peru advances to the World Cup for the first time since 1982 pic.twitter.com/s1znJVf7e8— AFP news agency (@AFP) November 16, 2017
The Peru celebrations went well into the night, with Peruvians not worrying about working in the morning after president Pedro Pablo Kaczynski declared Thursday would be a non-working holiday.
The 32nd and final team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup: PERU
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) November 16, 2017
Back on the pitch, these photojournalists couldn’t keep up with the players’ celebrations after the match, tripping over themselves to get the best shot.
Photographers during the celebration of Peru pic.twitter.com/MyAz1ftEBL— Photos of Football (@photosofootball) November 16, 2017
It’s clear how much qualifying for the World Cup means to Peru. I can’t imagine scenes like this in the United States even if the U.S. won the World Cup, let alone just qualifying. Peru just became a huge fan favorite for next summer, even if they knocked out the lovable Kiwis to reach Russia.