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Mexico beat Jamaica to reach Copa America quarter-finals

Friday, 10 June 2016

Mexico's Oribe Peralta (kneeling) prays next to teammate Raul Jimenez after scoring against Jamaica during their Copa America Centenario match in Pasadena, California, on June 9, 2016
Mexico’s Oribe Peralta (kneeling) prays next to teammate Raul Jimenez after scoring against Jamaica during their Copa America Centenario match in Pasadena, California, on June 9, 2016

Mexico survived a first half barrage and a clear-cut penalty shout to beat Jamaica 2-0 in the Copa America, booking a quarter-final place with a game to spare.

Thursday’s win leaves the Reggae Boyz still searching for their first goal and unable to go through, with Uruguay also out after losing to Venezuela, the other qualifiers in Group C.

The game had kicked off in a carnival atmosphere generated by a 83,263 crowd made almost entirely of Mexico fans.

But it descended into controversy as Jamaica were denied a spot-kick and a chance to equalize in the second half after striker Clayton Donaldson looked to have been fouled in the area.

“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 told reporters after the whistle.

Asked if he believed the overwhelming Mexican support had influenced the penalty decision, he replied: “I don’t want to go there — the referee’s decision is final.”

Jamaica had named a makeshift back line that was missing the injured Kemar Lawrence and tough-tackling Rodolph Austin.

The team were also sorely missing the influence of head coach Winfried Schaefer, who was suspended after being sent to the stands in the opener.

Their inexperience showed in the 18th minute as Jesus Manuel Corona was allowed to float in a cross from the left to an unmarked Javier Hernandez, who nodded in from six yards for what will be one of the easiest of his 45 international goals.

The prolific former Man Utd and Real Madrid striker is now just one off equaling Mexico’s all-time scoring record, held by Jared Borgetti.

Jamaica had most of the early chances and should have drawn first blood on five minutes when Donaldson found himself in space in the area, only to hook his shot for a goal kick.

– ‘Passionate support’ –

The Birmingham City striker was profligate again on the half hour, heading wide before his team mate Garath McCleary fluffed a perfect pull-back by Jobi McAnuff.

Jamaica had another golden opportunity to draw level before half time but Malaga goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa showed incredible reactions to fend off Michael Hector’s blasted shot from point blank range.

Mexico were inches away from putting the match beyond Jamaica soon after the break, when a sweet pass from Corona found Jimenez at the far post.

The striker’s volley bounced deliciously across the face of an open goal, but it was just beyond the oncoming Hernandez.

Mexico attacked in waves but couldn’t find a way through and were caught on the break on 65 minutes when Donaldson took the ball into the area only to be cut down by Yasser Corona.

Replays showed the defender didn’t get a touch on the ball, but Brazilian match official Wilton Sampaio looked away and there were few complaints from the partisan crowd.

Jamaica’s misery was sealed nine minutes from time 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 inside the right-hand upright.

Jamaica and Uruguay will be fighting for scraps in Santa Clara on Monday, while Mexico and Venezuela vie for the Group C top spot in Houston.

The winner is likely to avoid having to face tournament favorites Argentina in the quarter-finals.

Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio — who has a perfect record in his first nine games in the job — said he was “definitely satisfied” with the team’s performance.

“If we had both scored all our opportunities it would probably have been 5-2 or 6-3 but in general we were superior,” he said.

Osorio admitted he had underestimated the good will for Mexico in the US, and the “amazing, passionate” support of the fans.

“We can only wish to play every single match in an environment like tonight’s,” he said.

Source by: AFP

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