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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 July, 2004, 08:17 GMT 09:17 UK
Time stands still for Palacios
By Tim Vickery

Peru's veteran playmaker Roberto Palacios
Great sportsmen often have a different conception of time from ordinary mortals.

They are so in control of their art that it seems time slows down enough for them to stop and think of what they should do, while for the rest of us everything passes in a blur.

Peru's veteran playmaker Roberto Palacios gave a perfect demonstration of the difference between artists and journeyman in his country's opening game in the Copa America.

Now 31, Palacios may well be a declining force, but how his team-mates missed him while he sat on the bench for the first hour against Bolivia.

Peru, never known for their mental strength, were giving all the signs that the occasion was too big for them.

Two goals down, a defeat to Bolivia, currently the weakest team in South America, would have been nothing less than a disaster.

The Lima crowd, known for their impatience, were beginning to despair.

Palacios had come on and helped Peru pull one goal back, but the clock was ticking away; it was inside the last five minutes.

Peru were applying frantic pressure, tripping over themselves in their anxiety, bumping into each other, generating more heat than light.

The ball came to Palacios on the edge of the area - one of the most important balls he has received in his long career.

It had been nearly four years since he last scored an international goal.

It was a now or never moment, and it really did feel as if time stood still as Palacios lifted and juggled the ball to make space before crashing in his volley left-footed into the back of the net.

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