Saturday, July 13, 2024

Venezuela through and Jamaica out as Mexico´s hopes hang in the balance

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 27 Jun 2024

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Venezuela are savouring a famous win after defeating Mexico 1-0 to reach the Copa America quarter-finals.

Mexico’s hopes of progression from Group B will now rest on the final matchday, with Ecuador still in the mix to advance after defeating Jamaica 3-1 in Wednesday’s other game.

Jamaica are now the first team to be eliminated from the tournament, as Venezuela celebrate joining defending champions Argentina in the last eight with a game to spare.

Salomon Rondon converted a second-half penalty to secure the crucial victory, sending Mexico goalkeeper Julio Gonzalez the wrong way.

It was the veteran striker’s 42nd international goal, extending his record tally for the country having also hit the post earlier in the contest.

Mexico had a huge opportunity to level the match from the spot, but Venezuela keeper Rafael Romo repelled a spot-kick from Orbelin Pineda three minutes from time.

Romo is the seventh keeper, and the first from Venezuela, to save a penalty in the competition since 2011 (excluding shoot-outs).

“Sometimes we were not in possession of the ball, but we never gave up,” Venezuela coach Fernando Batista said. “They give it their all and that makes me very proud.”

Mexico play Ecuador in Arizona on Sunday to determine who will progress with Venezuela.

Venezuela will still be targeting at least a point in their last match against Jamaica, as that would ensure they top the group and likely avoid a clash with Argentina in the quarters.

Romo was the star man for Venezuela, making five saves including the penalty, and Mexico can consider themselves unfortunate not to have scored, racking up an expected goals (xG) total of 2.52 from their 18 total shots.

Mexico coach Jaime Lozano said: “If you generate opportunities as we did, if the man of the match is the opponent’s goalkeeper, then yes, things weren’t as we expected.

“But there are 90 minutes ahead. No one is getting off this ship. And we will make it. I am sure we will make it.”

But Ecuador go into that clash with Mexico on a high. They went ahead against Jamaica courtesy of a Kasey Palmer own goal and were two up before the break after Kendry Paez scored from the spot.

Ecuador will be excited about Paez, whose goal at the age of 17 years and 53 days made him the youngest Copa goalscorer since Johnnier Montano, who netted for Colombia against Argentina in 1999 as a 16-year-old.

Paez attempted the second-most shots (six) by an Ecuador player in a Copa match since Opta began recording this data in 2011. Only Enner Valencia, with seven against Mexico in 2015, has had more attempts in a game.

Jamaica did score their first-ever Copa America goal thanks to West Ham striker Michail Antonio, but Alan Minda made sure of the win for Ecuador by capping a late counter-attack with a goal.

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