Uruguay tum­ble out as Mex­ico, Venezuela reach quar­ters

Pakistan Observer - - SPORTS -

PHILADELPHIA—Uruguay were sent crash­ing out of the Copa Amer­ica Cen­te­nario on Thurs­day as Venezuela and Mex­ico marched into the quarer-fi­nals.

Uruguay, the record 15-time Copa Amer­ica cham­pi­ons, were elim­i­nated in the group phase for the first time since 1997 af­ter slump­ing to a shock 1-0 loss to Venezuela in Philadelphia.

That re­sult com­bined with Mex­ico’s 20 Group C win over Ja­maica in Pasadena left the 2011 cham­pi­ons strug­gling to di­gest a hu­mil­i­at­ing early exit.

“We never found the game we wanted and that cost us,” Uruguay’s revered coach Os­car Tabarez said, adding that the ill-fated cam­paign should serve as a warn­ing to his team as they now look ahead to the re­sump­tion of 2018 World Cup qual­i­fiers.

“It’s been a very dif­fer­ent Copa Amer­ica. I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing like this be­fore.

“We knew it was go­ing to be dif­fi­cult but this should be a wake-up call be­fore the World Cup qual­i­fiers,” Tabarez added.

Uruguay’s de­feat also capped a mis­er­able tour­na­ment for Barcelona su­per­star Luis Suarez.

Suarez, nurs­ing a ham­string in­jury when he joined up with the squad, has so far not played a sin­gle minute.

Suarez ap­peared in the dugout and looked vis­i­bly frus­trated at his fail­ure to get on the pitch, at one point ap­pear­ing to punch the dugout wall.

Tabarez de­fended his de­ci­sion not to name Suarez in the match­day squad.

“The player is not fit to play. It’s a mat­ter of num­bers. I will not select a player who is not 100 per­cent. Was he an­gry? I am not aware. To me he told me noth­ing,” Tabarez said.

Venezuela’s win­ner came on 36 min­utes, when mid­fielder Ale­jan­dro Guerra clev­erly spot­ted Uruguay goal­keeper Fer­nando Muslera off his line.

Guerra un­leashed a lon­grange ef­fort from near the half­way line which the back- ped­alling Muslera could only parry onto the bar be­fore Salomon Rondon bun­dled in the re­bound.

Venezuela’s ad­vance to the last eight is the big­gest shock of the tour­na­ment so far.

The Venezue­lans are cur­rently bot­tom of South Amer­ica’s 10-team round robin qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion for the 2018 World Cup; Uruguay are on top of the stand­ings.

“To beat the ‘Mae­stro’ Tabarez is a priv­i­lege,” Venezuela coach Rafael Du­damel said. “For me it means a lot. He’s one of the best coaches in the world, in his­tory. This win will mo­ti­vate us to keep win­ning and grow­ing as a team,” he added.

Venezuela will now face Mex­ico in their fi­nal first round game to de­ter­mine who fin­ishes top of Group C.

Mex­ico, who had beaten Uruguay 3-1 in their open­ing game, mean­while proved too pow­er­ful for Caribbean min­nows Ja­maica in front of an 83,263 crowd at the Pasadena Rose Bowl.

With Cal­i­for­nia’s large pop­u­la­tion of Mex­i­can-Amer­i­cans mak­ing it a vir­tual home game for ‘El Tri’, Mex­ico took the lead on 18 min­utes when for­mer Manch­ester United and Real Madrid striker Javier Her­nan­dez nod­ded in his 45th in­ter­na­tional goal.

Ja­maica were de­nied what looked like a clear-cut penalty in the sec­ond half af­ter striker Clay­ton Don­ald­son ap­peared to have been fouled in the area.

The drama came in the 60th minute when Don­ald­son rounded his marker be­fore be­ing cut down by Yasser Corona. Re­plays showed the de­fender didn’t get a touch on the ball.

Ja­maica’s mis­ery was sealed when Mex­ico’s Hirv­ing Lozano picked out Hec­tor Her­rera in the area and the mid­fielder nudged the ball on for sub­sti­tute Oribe Per­alta to stroke the ball first time in­side the right hand up­right on the 81st minute.

“It’s a tough loss of a game I be­lieve we dom­i­nated at times but we failed to take our chances,” Ja­maica’s as­sis­tant coach Miguel Co­ley said, re­fus­ing to be drawn on whether he felt the over­whelm­ing Mex­i­can sup­port had in­flu­enced the penalty de­ci­sion.

“I don’t want to go there — the ref­eree’s de­ci­sion is fi­nal.”—AFP

Play­ers of Venezuela cel­e­brate af­ter de­feat­ing Uruguay in their Copa Amer­ica Cen­te­nario Group C match, in Philadelphia, Penn­syl­va­nia.

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