Venezuela delivered the knock-out blow to Uruguay; Mexico also advance with them after a clinical show against Jamaica.
Copa America is renowned for its capacity to produce upsets every time. The 100th anniversary edition also wasn’t to disappoint as it saw the 2010 World Cup semi-finalists knocked out by a superb performance by Venezuela, who made their way to the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, Mexico made sure that there were no more upsets in their group as they showed yet another strong performance to advance at the expense of Jamaica. The stakes prior to these round of matches were pretty clear as a Suarez-less Uruguay and Jamaica both needed nothing short of a win to keep their hopes alive in this competition.
Uruguay 0-1 Venezuela
Salomon Rondon’s goal made sure that Venezuela grabbed all 3 points from their game against Uruguay and advance to the next round of the Copa America. The 36th minute strike was enough to knock out the 15-time champions out from the tournament. Venezuela, ranked Number 77 in the world, beat Uruguay for the first time since 2006. Maxi Pereira broke a record in this match as he now holds the record for the most number of appearance for an Uruguayan with an impressive 113th cap.
The 26-year-old Rondon scored from a deflection after a shot was cleared onto his path, which he accepted with the minimum of fuss and put it into the back of the net to take the lead. Alejandro Guerra made an extremely optimistic effort from 50 yards out, which Muslera couldn’t clear completely, giving the Venezuelans a much needed break in the game. The tempo of the match was set from then on and Uruguay found themselves in a similar situation to what they did a few days ago when they lost against Mexico.
It was crucial that Venezuela soaked up all the pressure in the game and defended in the second half with determination and concentration to ensure they keep a clean sheet. Edinson Cavani came close to scoring once in both halves but Jose Contreras made sure that Uruguay weren’t to score a goal in this game. Later on in the match, Venezuela could have doubled their lead when from a corner, Romolu Otero’s effort drifted just wide of the post.
The coach Oscar Tabarez wasn’t happy with his team’s collective performance as he had already clarified the reason Suarez did not feature was his injury problem. As the two time champions get ready to play their final match, a dead rubber against Jamaica, their fans will hope the team would restore some pride and end the tournament with a win.
Mexico 2-0 Jamaica
In front of a huge crowd of 83,00 at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, Mexico made sure they delighted their supporters with a resounding 2-0 victory that takes them to the top of the group table. Mexico displayed yet another commanding performance as they brushed aside Jamaica with not much of a fight as they secured their place in the quarter-finals. Goals from Javier Hernandez and Oribe Peralta assured a comfortable win for El Tricolor as they grew in the game with their efficiency. Jamaica, as expected by many, were the underdogs in this group as they are yet to open their scoring in this tournament. Their best bet coming into the tournament was to defend deep and hope that they score goals on the counter against all their South American counterparts in the group.
At times, Jamaica looked threatening as Ochoa was called into action a few times in the second half. The Mexican goalkeeper was forced to make a diving save to deny Michael Hector shot in the final 10 minutes of the game. Mexico looked a bit rattled during that period but the introduction of Oribe Peralta calmed the nerves of the team as he gave Mexico a cushion late on in the game, putting the result beyond any doubt. Mexico were visibly spurred on in the game by the crowd as the humongous stadium was a sea of green and white as the fans came out in massive numbers to push the team over the line in this crucial encounter.
Earlier on in the first half, Mexico took the lead through a fantastic move that saw Raul Jiminez crossing the ball to Jesus Manuel Corona who eventually found Javier Hernandez. He made no mistake in opening the scoring. This win made sure that Mexico remains unbeaten in 21 international matches, a feat that Juan Carlos Osorio and his men can be extremely proud of.
Now all that remains is an encounter with Venezuela for the top spot in the Group as both the teams go head-to-head in a few days time.