Late goals secure win for Mexico
GLENDALE, Arizona (AP):
Two late goals on Sunday night preserved Mexico's image as a team to beat in Copa America.
Before Rafa Marquez and Hector Herrera scored to give their team a 3-1 victory, the only offence Mexico could muster was an own goal by Uruguay's Alvaro Pereira four minutes into the match.
That ignominious moment came just after the Chilean anthem was, embarrassingly, played instead of the Uruguay anthem in the pre-game ceremonies. Copa America 2016 blamed the mistake on "a human error".
"It was a lack of respect, nothing more than that," Pereira said.
After some tense moments, the late-scoring surge finally gave the loud, rowdy, vastly pro-Mexico crowd of 60,025 the victory they expected in the Copa America opener between teams considered the two best in Group C.
"It's step by step," Mexico's Andres Guardado said. "We have the capability. We have a lot of games to go, but we have to continue on the same path and know that we are in a good spot, but have work to do."
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio knows his team will be the home team throughout the competition.
"We have to learn to play as protagonists (crowd favourites)," he said, "and this is how we should play in America."
Marquez's close-range shot in the 84th minute broke a 1-1 tie and Herrera's header from just outside the net added another score in extra time. Marquez's goal came 10 minutes after Diego Godin's header tied it for Uruguay at 1-1.
"They struggled and tied the game," Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. "We missed chances and that's just soccer. Mexico happened to get the goals and it's a just result."
Mexico, who have never won the Copa America, have not lost in 20 consecutive games.
Uruguay, a 15-time Copa America champion, were without their best player, Luis Suarez, who injured a hamstring in a match two weeks ago.
Marquez's go-ahead goal came after a pass slipped through his legs and to a teammate, who sent the ball back to him for a wide-open shot at the net.
"I got the pass and I controlled it well," he said, "and put a good shot on it."
Guardado and Uruguay's Matius Vecino drew red cards and will have to sit out a match.