By Alex Baker
Pasadena, Calif. – Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez opened up the scoring against Jamaica before substitute Oribe Peralta doubled the lead in what ended as a 2-0 win for Mexico at the Rose Bowl on Thursday. The win, which effectively booked Mexico’s passage to the quarterfinals of the Copa America Centenario, also sees Jamaica eliminated from the competition.
It took 18 minutes for Mexico to break the deadlock after an opening passage of play in which Jamaica created the lion’s share of the chances. Hernandez broke free of his marker to find space in the center of the box and head a cross from Jesus Corona into the bottom right corner.
With 12 minutes remaining in regulation time, Hernandez was subbed off to make way for Peralta, who doubled Mexico’s lead just three minutes later, firing a left-footed shot past Jamaica keeper Andrew Blake with an assist from Hector Herrera.
Jamaica created a number of good chances themselves, particularly in the first half, when Clayton Donaldson put his 35th-minute effort just wide of goal and Michael Hector forced a fine save from Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa just three minutes later. The Reggae Boys simply lacked the clinical finishing of Juan Carlo Osorio’s Mexico side.
But while El Tri were undoubtedly the superior team, the 2-0 scoreline is a bit unkind to a Jamaica side that caused constant problems for Mexico’s defense and were unlucky to be denied a clear penalty in the second half.
While even a win in their final group stage clash with Uruguay (also eliminated) will see them eliminated, Jamaica can exit the tournament with their heads held high after a spirited performance in which they faced down, not just the best team in CONCACAF; but a raucous 83,000+ crowd that was at least 99 percent pro-Mexico.
Meanwhile, a win for Mexico in their final group stage clash with Venezuela on Monday would see them top Group C, setting them up for a likely run-in with Chile in the next round.
Mexico went into this summer’s Copa as many people’s dark horse favorites to win it. And on the basis of what we’ve seen so far, the reigning CONCACAF champions look to have a reasonable shot at making it into the final.