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Copa America: Venezuela triumphs over 10-man Ecuador, Mexico beats Jamaica

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Copa America: Venezuela triumphs over 10-man Ecuador, Mexico beats Jamaica
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Venezuela's Eduard Bello (L) scores his side's 2nd goal against Ecuador and Mexico's Gerardo Arteaga (R) celebrates scoring his side's opening goal against Jamaica during a Copa America Group B football match | Photo: AP

Santa Clara: In Saturday's Copa America Group B encounter, Venezuela defeated 10-man Ecuador 2-1 with goals from substitutes Jhonder Cadiz and Eduard Bello.

In the other match in the group, Mexico defeated Jamaica 1-0 in Houston to start the tournament on a winning note, but they lost their captain Edson Alvarez to injury. After striker Enner Valencia was sent off for a dangerous play in the 22nd minute of the match at Levi Stadium, Ecuador was forced to play with 10 men.

When the 34-year-old forward challenged for a high, bouncing ball in the area, he struck Venezuelan defender Jose Martinez's chest with his boot. He was first given a yellow card, but a VAR review led to a straight red card being shown to him.

Ecuador, who had been leading the game prior to the dismissal, reacted admirably and took the lead in the 40th minute when Jeremy Sarmiento pounced on a loose ball and drilled home after Venezuela failed to clear it into the box, AFP reported.

At halftime, Venezuelan head coach Fernando Batista made two substitutions: Bello and Cadiz, both of whom had a significant impact.

The ball was laid off to Cadiz by "Vinotinto" striker Salomon Rondon. Cadiz's low, side-footed drive from the edge of the box received a tiny deflection before shooting past Ecuadorian goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.

Then, in the 74th minute, Rondon headed a diving header after Alexander Gonzalez had whipped in a cross from the right; Dominguez parried it, but Bello was quick to react and fire home the loose ball.

"To be able to score a goal, which helped in the victory, and to have contributed to the first goal, is a joy. These three points are very important for what's to come," said a delighted Bello.

Felix Sanchez, the Spanish coach of Ecuador, stated that he had to alter the team's strategy as a result of Valencia's red card.

"We had to change the plan, wait a bit behind the opposition. It's clear that when you play with 10 men you are at the mercy of the opposition for many minutes, even if you don't want to play that way," he said.

"Obviously it's not the dream start, but there are two more games left and we have the team to compete. The most important thing is that the team recovers its spirit for what is to come.”

Arteaga goal lifts Mexico

Mexico struggled against Jamaica for extended periods of time until Gerardo Arteaga's incredible strike in the 69th minute gave them the victory. When Alvarez, a midfielder for West Ham, went down without making contact in the 29th minute, Jaime Lozano's team suffered a severe setback.

El Tri struggled to produce opportunities in the first half, with Luis Romo's finest effort, a curling shot just wide, coming just before halftime. Jamaica believed they were up in the 50th minute, but a VAR review showed that Michail Antonio's diving header was offside.

That respite roused the Mexicans, who pressed on with renewed determination. Luis Chavez forced a wonderful stop from Jamaican keeper Jahmali Waite, and Julian Quinones shot over the crossbar after cutting in from the left.

Waite was quick again to keep out a Santiago Gimenez near-post shot as the pressure mounted, and Mexico broke the deadlock when the ball went to Arteaga on the edge of the box, and he blasted a brilliantly executed half-volley into the far corner.

There was still a chance for Jamaica to win, but Julio Gonzalez, the Mexican keeper, blocked Dexter Lembikisa's low effort around the post. Mexico was motivated to win the game by the goal that was disallowed, according to Arteaga.

"A goal, whether for or against, changes your mood a lot. And seeing that it had been disallowed, that also lifted us a little bit more to keep insisting and looking for the goal ourselves," the left-back told TUDN.

On Wednesday in Los Angeles, Mexico will play Venezuela, while in Las Vegas that same day, Jamaica will play Ecuador.

"We know there's not going to be an easy opponent. Thank God we won against Jamaica and now we want to go for another win," said Arteaga.

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TAGS:Copa America 2024
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