Venezuela edge out 10-man Ecuador in Copa America, Mexico beat Jamaica

Published June 24, 2024
HOUSTON (Texas): Mexico’s Johan Vasquez (second R) battles for possession with Jamaica’s Michail Antonio (bottom) and Shamar Nicholson during their Copa America Group ‘B’ match at NRG Stadium.—AFP
HOUSTON (Texas): Mexico’s Johan Vasquez (second R) battles for possession with Jamaica’s Michail Antonio (bottom) and Shamar Nicholson during their Copa America Group ‘B’ match at NRG Stadium.—AFP

SANTA CLARA: Venezuela struck twice in the space of 10 minutes in the second half to come from behind and earn a 2-1 victory over Ecuador in the Copa America on Saturday, getting their Group ‘B’ campaign off to a winning start.

In the group’s other game, Mexico made a winning start to their campaign with a 1-0 victory over Jamaica in Houston but lost their captain Edson Alvarez to injury.

Ecuador played most of the match with 10 men after their captain Enner Valencia was sent off in the 22nd minute for a high boot, but Jeremy Sarmiento smashed home just before halftime to put them in front.

Both of Venezuela’s goals came from substitutes.

Jhonder Cadiz levelled the match in the 64th minute before Eduard Bello struck in the 74th to boost Venezuela’s chances of reaching the quarter-finals.

 SANTA CLARA (California): Venezuela’s Yordan Osorio (R) vies with Kevin Rodriguez of Ecuador during their Group ‘B’ match at Levi’s Stadium.—Reuters
SANTA CLARA (California): Venezuela’s Yordan Osorio (R) vies with Kevin Rodriguez of Ecuador during their Group ‘B’ match at Levi’s Stadium.—Reuters

Cadiz pounced on Salomon Rondon’s cushioned layoff in the following a quickly taken throw in to level the scores with a composed finish.

Bello sealed victory for Venezuela 10 minutes later, smashing a rebound high into the net from close range after Rondon drew a save from Ecuador keeper Alexa­nder Dominguez with a diving header.

“We fought until the end, even though we were without an important player very early,” Ecuador midfielder Moises Caicedo said. “It hurts to lose… (but) we have to keep going because there are two games to go.

“We have a lot of character to turn this around and we are going to fight until the end.”

Valencia was sent off after making contact with Jose Martinez’s face.

Ecuador’s talisman and top international scorer initially earned a yellow for the challenge but the card was upgraded to a red after the referee was sent to the monitor by the video assistant.

Valencia will miss Ecuador’s next group match against Jamaica on Wedn­esday as a result of the straight red card. Venezuela next face Mexico on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Mexico laboured for long stretches against Jamaica before a superbly struck 69th minute goal from Gerardo Arteaga earned them the three points.

Jaime Lozano’s team suffered a major blow when their skipper, West Ham midfielder Alvarez had to go off in the 29th minute after going down without contact.

‘El Tri’ struggled to create opportunities in the opening half with their best effort, a curling shot just wide from Luis Romo, just before the break.

Jamaica thought they had the lead in the 50th minute but Michail Antonio’s diving header was ruled out for offside after a VAR review.

That let-off woke up the Mexicans who pushed forward with greater purpose.

Luis Chavez forced a good save out of Jamaica keeper Jahmali Waite and Julian Quinones fired over the bar after cutting in from the left.

Waite was alert again to keep out a Santiago Gimenez near post blast as the pressure built and finally Mexico got the breakthrough when the ball fell to Arteaga on the edge of the box and he blasted a perfectly struck half-volley into the far corner.

Jamaica had one last opportunity to salvage a point but Dexter Lembikisa’s low shot was turned round the post by Mexico keeper Julio Gonzalez.

Arteaga said the disallowed goal had given Mexico the impetus to go on and win the game.

“A goal, whether for or against, changes your mood a lot. And seeing that it had been disallowed, that also lifted us a little bit more to keep insisting and looking for the goal ourselves,” the left-back told TUDN.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2024

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