While tight scorelines and miserly defences were the order of the day in the opening exchanges of the 2016 Copa America Centenario, all that changed when Mexico and Uruguay took centre stage on Sunday, with El Tri emerging 3-1 winners in an absorbing encounter. Earlier in the day, Venezuela edged out Jamaica by a solitary goal.
The day’s results
Jamaica 0-1 Venezuela
Mexico 3-1 Uruguay
The signs were there in the day’s first game between Jamaica and Venezuela, which produced more fluid football than previously seen in the tournament and more in the way of goalmouth action. Josef Martinez’s opening goal on 15 minutes would prove to be the only one of the game, however, giving the Venezuelans their first win under coach Rafael Dudamel in an official tournament. Mexico and Uruguay then ran out at the University of Phoenix Stadium intent on serving up even more entertainment. El Tri were celebrating only four minutes in, when Alvaro Pereira inadvertently turned an Andres Guardado cross into his own net. Both teams went down to ten men before Diego Godin headed home from a free-kick to level things up with 16 minutes remaining. The chances flowed at both ends in a dramatic finale, with neither side able to gain control. Then, with five minutes remaining, Rafael Marquez pounced on a loose ball at an uncleared corner-kick and thrashed home at the near post to put Mexicans back in front, with Hector Herrera then applying the finishing touch for El Tri two minutes into stoppage time.
Highlight of the day
There was no shortage of action in the closing stages of that exciting encounter between Mexico and Uruguay. With the Mexicans 2-1 in front and chances coming thick and fast at both ends, the keepers had to be at their most alert, the midfielders sent the ball forward as fast as they could, and the defenders were simply rushed off their feet, all to the delight of the fans. El Tri were looking to seal the game, while Los Charrúas were desperate to rescue a late and valuable point. It was a simple question of all or nothing. With the game deep into added time, the Mexicans regained possession and the ball found its way to the feet of the jinking Hirving Lozano. The young left winger shrugged off his marker and sent a low cross into Raul Jimenez, who was surging into the six-yard box. Closely marked and resisting the urge to shoot on goal himself, despite the opposing keeper having already gone to ground, the Benfica forward coolly clipped the ball across the face of the goal to allow Herrera to nod in the easiest of far-post headers and seal victory for the Mexicans.
6 - the number of Copa America competitions that Rafael Marquez has now played in. The Mexico defender and captain has made more appearances in the competition than any other current player.
What they said
“The most important thing about this victory is that it’s going to give us confidence and belief in ourselves. We knew how important it was to win our opening match. We focused on Jamaica, we respected them and, above all, we stayed true to our style. We’ve taken a step forward today, and we’re now going to think about Uruguay. What I’m going to focus on most of all for the next match is making sure my team continues to build its confidence.”
Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel