10 Men Tricolor Darken 10 Men Sky Blue…
by Luis Eduardo Flores
The stage was set for the elite teams of CONCACAF and CONMEBOL. Everyone expected a tough match…‘Mexico vs. Uruguay’ did not disappoint. Without a doubt, this has been the best match in the tournament, thus far.
The action began at the 4th minute; when Alvaro Pereira scored an own goal, in attempt to clear Andres Guardado’s pass to Hector Herrera. Poor shame for Uruguay, since it was basic defending gone wrong.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for El Tri; Guardado was given a yellow card for a foul on Carlos Sanchez. For a vet like Guardado, that was completely reckless. Well, it’s only fair that he got the yellow card.
Between Guardado’s yellow card and the end of 1st half, we saw 20 grown men kicking each other. Pointless.
Edison Cavani nearly got one back for Uruguay, but to no avail. Towards the end of 1st half, Uruguay’s Matias Vecino (Vecino: Spanish for ‘neighbor’) shot his team in the foot with a red card (after a strong kick to Jesus Manuel Corona). With that…Uruguay was put against the wall…for a while. That was very neighborly on behalf of Vecino.
Come the 73rd minute, Guardado was awarded a red card for a foul on Sanchez (again). Guardado’s expulsion was epic foreshadowing. Uruguay’s freekick led to Diego Godin scoring. Not only was Mexico was even in players, they were even in score. The irony in this was that Uruguay was the team that was scoring…until the 85th minute.
Miguel Layun was set to take the corner from the left side. Hirving Lozano received the short pass and started to make his way down the middle; outside the box. Lozano made the pass to Rafa Marquez. Marquez let the pass go to Raul Jimenez. Jimenez returned the favor with a pass back to Marquez. With the defenders out of the picture, 37 year old Marquez scored with a powerful right-footed shot (17th career goal with the national squad). The goal turned out to be game winner. Even so, Mexico needed another goal to secure the victory.
Hector Herrera scored Mexico’s 3rd goal at the 91st minute (following a cross inside the box from Raul Jimenez); from close range via header.
With that, Mexico holds 1st place in Group C while Uruguay found itself in last place.
Overall it was it historic night for both teams. For Uruguay, this was the 2nd time that they lost to a CONCACAF team in a tournament (the other being Costa Rica in the 2014 World Cup). For Mexico, they scored CONCACAF’s first goal of the tournament. In addition, this also marked the first time that Mexico beat Uruguay in a tournament.
Uruguay gets to redeem itself against Venezuela, before facing Jamaica. Don’t let the loss fool you, “La Celeste” is still an elite team.
As for Mexico; Jamaica’s loss to Venezuela earlier in the day and to Mexico (in the 2015 Gold Cup final), everything points towards another win over Jamaica.
Big props go to Juan Carlos Osorio for keeping his calm, getting the tactics on point for this clash, and recognizing Uruguay as a “great rival”.