Group C of the 2016 Copa America got off to a lively start, as former FC Barcelona star Rafael Marquez helped Mexico to a thumping 3-1 win over Uruguay. While the Mexicans climbed to the top of the table with this win, Venezuela also managed to sneak in a 1-0 triumph over 10-man Jamaica.
These set of results mean that Uruguay, who were favourites to top the group, now lie rock bottom. However, La Celeste have already played what looks like the most difficult fixture of the group, and now need to win their two remaining group matches to give themselves a chance of qualifying for the quarter finals.
Let’s take a look at what transpired in the two matches.
Jamaica 0-1 Venezuela
The Venezuelans picked up 3 points after a hard fought 1-0 win over Jamaica in their first match of the Copa America Centenario. Venezuela (77), who are ranked 31 places below Jamaica (46) in the FIFA rankings, were able to pull off this successful result thanks to a 15th minute strike by Josef Martinez.
La Vinotinto‘s job of defending their slender lead was made much easier when Jamaica winger Rodolph Austin was sent off in the 24th minute for a lunging tackle on Tomas Rincon, who immediately took to the turf clutching his shin. Replays suggested that Austin’s studs were too high for him to get a lighter punishment.
The early sending off certainly had a big impact on the game, as Venezuela could now afford to keep long bouts of possession. However, Jamaica did well to create their chances on counter attacks and set pieces during the second half.
Venezuela keeper Dani Hernandez was forced to make a couple of stunning saves, as Jamaica went in search of the equaliser in the second half. However, it was too little too late for the Carribbean side, as Venezuela held on to win.
Mexico 3-1 Uruguay
The match between the top two ranked teams of Group C kicked off with a bit of controversy, as the organisers played Chile’s national anthem instead of Uruguay’s before the kickoff. Unable to do anything about it, the Uruguay players merely stood awkwardly, while the organisers played the wrong anthem. The Copa America authorities later issued an official apology for this incident.
A statement from Copa America Centenario LOC… pic.twitter.com/9R1QBUZHwd
— Copa América 2016 (@CA2016) June 6, 2016
As if weighed down by what had transpired before the match, Uruguay fell behind in the fourth minute itself, as fullback Alvaro Pereira headed a cross into his own net. The task got a lot harder for Uruguay after the 45th minute, as Fiorentina midfielder Matias Vecino was sent off for a second bookable offense.
However, Mexico were also reduced to 10 men after PSV winger Andres Guardado received his second booking of the match. Just a minute later, Uruguay captain Diego Godin headed in a goal, levelling the scores to 1-1 and bringing the Celeste back into the match.
The parity in the score did not last for long though, as Mexico captain and former Barcelona star Rafael Marquez popped up inside the box to smash a loose ball into the top corner of Fernando Muslera’s goal in the 85th minute. Mexico’s victory was made certain two minutes into added time, after Hector Herrera headed into an empty net.