Mexico got some late help from an old hand to bag a gritty 3-1 win over Uruguay in their Copa America Cenenatrio opener in Phoenix, Arizona.
Veteran defender and captain Rafael Marquez blasted home the winning goal in the 85th minute after a physical match-up between two sides that saw both teams end the game with 10 men.
Before Marquez’s winner, Mexico had taken an early lead on an Alvaro Pereira own goal in the fourth minute, after a superb cross from Andres Guardado, and looked to be in the driver’s seat when Matias Vecino was sent off for his second yellow card just before halftime.
But Uruguay came out of the gates strong in the second half, and the numbers – and the score – were evened in a quick span starting in the 73rd minute. Guardado was shown his second yellow card of the game, and captain Diego Godin headed home from the resulting free kick.
However, Marquez would smack home a loose ball five minutes from time and Hector Herrera iced the game with a close-range header in stoppage time.
- 4’ – MEX – Alvaro Pereira own goal
- 74’ – URU – Diego Godin (Carlos Sanchez)
- 85’ – MEX – Rafael Marquez
- 90+2' – MEX – Hector Herrera (Raul Jimenez)
- Full box score
- VETS COME THROUGH: This game was one for the veterans for both teams. On a side brimming with young talent, it was the 37-year-old Marquez who slammed home the winning goal to add to a composed defensive performance in an intensely physical match. Guardado also had a beautiful cross that led to Mexico’s opener. On the Uruguayan end, captain Diego Godin was one of the main protagonists of the match on both sides of the ball, commanding his team’s backline while also surging forward, setting up Diego Rolan for one of Uruguay’s best chances of the game before getting on the end of a free kick for his team’s lone goal.
- PAGING CHICHARITO: Mexico’s star man was held scoreless in the first game of the tournament, either snuffed out by a physical Uruguayn defense or unable to be found by some wayward Mexican crosses. He had one great chance in the 69th minute that he just couldn’t get enough purchase on, and was subbed off in the 82nd minute. Fortunately for him and Mexico, though, he will have two games to get going against weaker opposition in Jamaica and Venezuela prior to the knockout stages.
- BETTER WITH 10?: It’s one of those funny things in soccer – sometimes the team with 10 men ends up playing better after the red card. Uruguay were held firmly in check by the first half before Vecino’s late red card, then came out flying in the second half, creating a series of great chances until their equalizer. But once Mexico were similarly reduced to 10 men, momentum swung back in their favor as space opened up, paving the way for the eventual winner.
- Mexico: Thursday vs. Jamaica (10 pm ET; FS1/Univision/UDN)
- Uruguay: Thursday vs. Venezuela (7:30 pm ET; FS1/UniMás/UDN)