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Peru and Ecuador have a peculiar history when it comes to soccer.
It all began back in 1938, when they both participated in the Bolivarian Games, an international sporting competition inspired by the 1936 summer Olympics.
The Bolivarian Games, a sporting event created in honor of Simon Bolivar, was host to the first matchup between Peru and Ecuador. At the beginning of their long history, the pairing seemed decided one-sided, but as time wore on, the Ecuadorian team slowly but surely managed to draw even with Peru. Though Peru won most of their early matches, Ecuador was able to bridge the gap in recent years, resulting in their current record of 21 wins for Peru, 17 for Ecuador and 15 draws.
The Bolivarian Games
The Bolivarian Games, modeled after the 1936 summer Olympics, happened roughly once a decade and hosted a broad range of sports, from diving to boxing, fencing to chess, but the sporting event that we’re interested in is Soccer. For Peru, Ecuador was little more than a stepping stone to their Gold medal in Soccer.
They took full advantage of the underdeveloped Ecuadorian team to score an outrageous lead, scoring their first goal at 14 minutes, and each subsequent goal every 10 minutes or so. At one point, Teodoro Alcalde, the top scorer of the game, scored two goals in three minutes, the first at 40 minutes and the second at 43 minutes. Peru decimated Ecuador, with a final score of 9-1.
They only ever met up once more during the Bolivarian games, in 1954. This time, Ecuador was able to show a little more grit, but still lost at 2-0 for Peru.
The Copa America
The Copa America, also called the South American Championship, began in 1916 and is the world’s oldest international continental soccer competition. Though it began with just Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, it eventually grew to include Peru, Ecuador and countries throughout South America, and starting in the 1990’s even countries in North America and Asia have been invited to participate.
The 1939 Copa America is where the Bolivarian Battering picks back up, just a year after Ecuador’s 9-1 demolition. While they were able to put up slightly more of a fight, scoring 2 goals, they were still overwhelmed by the Peruvians, losing with 5 goals scored against them.
The harrowing one-sided matchups continued for decades, with a single fluke in 1947 where Ecuador managed to hold Peru to a no goal draw. However, nearly every other game ended in a landslide. 4-0 for Peru in 1941, 2-1 in 1942, 4-0 again in 1949, Peru won all but one game with twice as many points as their tiny northern neighbors.
The Peruvian reign of terror continued for Ecuador for many years, with Peru defeating Ecuador 8 times between 1939 until 1963.
At this point, political instability seems to have prevented Ecuador from fielding a national team in any kind of international soccer competition. When they returned, however, they were an entirely new team. No longer were they the timid goal sponges everyone had known them to be in the past.
They abstained from international soccer tournaments for over a decade, and the first time they returned to the Copa America wasn’t until 1987. When they eventually matched up against the team that had historically bullied them on the field, they fought fiercely, holding them to a 1-1 draw.
8 years later, in 1995, they finally scored their first Copa America victory against Peru, at 2-1, and in their most recent meeting, back in 2016, they fought even harder, earning a 2-2 draw against Peru.
While Ecuador actually returned to international soccer fairly quickly, participating in the 1966 FIFA World Cup, they were even less developed than before, and failed to qualify altogether. This did not stop them from beating Colombia twice, 1-0 and 2-0, due their draw and two losses to Chile.
In 1966, they also failed to qualify for the Copa America, and for the 1970 FIFA World Cup. And the 1974 World Cup, and on and on until finally, in the 2002 FIFA World cup they qualified, but unlucky enough to end up in Group G with Mexico and Italy, two soccer Titans, at which point they were eliminated with one win and two losses.
Most of the times Peru and Ecuador faced off for international audiences was during International Friendly matches and a handful of FIFA World Cup qualifying matches. However, from 1975 onwards was when Ecuador finally had the chops to hang with Peru.
June 22, 1975, during an International Friendly match, was the first time the Ecuadorian national team ever beat the Peruvian National team. It was not some weak, partial victory as they had often eked out over other teams, but a complete turning of the tables.
In what was almost a mirror performance of their first-ever matchup during the Bolivarian games, Ecuador scored goals like clockwork, going so far as to score two goals in rapid succession. One from Gonzalo Castaneda at 33 minutes, and another at 35 from Felix Lasso. Though they scored fewer goals, their victory was even more complete, as they were able to score a shutout against the Peruvians, who had historically dominated them on the soccer field, with a final score of 6 to 0 for Ecuador.
Though this must have been a sweet victory, it signaled to Peru that they had to take Ecuador serious now. They were no longer going to be the Peruvians punching bag. Their resurgence fell short, though, as Ecuador won yet again, but this time 1-0 against Peru’s full effort. They managed to maintain their momentum and turn the tables back again, winning their third International Friendly match of 1975 with 2 goals to none.
While they managed to turn things back to the way they were on that last match, they still lost the exchange, and it was clear they were dealing with a new and improved Ecuador.
While Ecuador wasn’t able to bring forth the same vigor and passion against other teams that they had for Peru, they still played plenty of International Friendly matches. Clearly, the relationship had changed, and there was mutual respect between the teams.
Even though Ecuador and Peru wouldn’t meet each other in the FIFA World Cup again until 2002, when they played several CONMEBOL qualifying matches against each other, as well as numerous International Friendly matches.
As the years wore on, Ecuador continued to earn the Peruvians respect, eventually making up for their abysmal record from the early 20th century with numerous wins and draws. As they stand today, with an overall record of 21 wins for Peru, 17 for Ecuador and 15 ties, what was once once-sided gladiatorial combat has become a friendly rivalry.