Marquez the Hero as Mexico Beat Uruguay in Copa Opener

By Staff Writer

GLENDALE, Arizona – After 85 minutes of contentious play in which both sides had scored and had a man sent off, it took a late goal from 37-year-old Rafa Marquez to decide what ended up as a 3-1 win for Mexico over Uruguay.

The CONCACAF side had gone ahead early through Andres Guardado, whose cross was headed in by Uruguay defender Alvaro Pereira in the fourth minute, resulting in the fastest own goal in Copa America history.

June 5, 2016 - Andres Guardado from Mexico takes control of the ball with a low header. Mexico beat Uruguay 3 - 1 in Glendale, Arizona.

June 5, 2016 – Andres Guardado from Mexico takes control of the ball with a low header. Mexico beat Uruguay 3 – 1 in Glendale, Arizona.

Mexico remained largely dominant throughout the match, retaining the majority of possession and putting seven shots on goal to Uruguay’s three.

Uruguay’s first genuine opportunity to equalize came in the 30th minute when Edinson Cavani broke through onto the Mexican goal. However, El Tri keeper Alfredo Talavera was up to the challenge and kept the Paris Saint-Germain striker’s effort out.

Things soon went from bad to worse for Uruguay when midfielder Matias Vecino received his second yellow card and was subsequently shown red just before halftime; meaning Uruguay would play the second half a man down.

Matias Vecino of Uruguay and Andres Guardado of Mexico battle for the ball.  Guardado is later sent off.

Matias Vecino of Uruguay and Andres Guardado of Mexico battle for the ball. Vecino is later sent off.

Uruguay nonetheless started the second period brightly and nearly found an equalizer when defender Diego Godin made a strong run, laying the ball off to Cavani who passed to Diego Rolan. Unfortunately, the Bordeaux striker put his effort wide of the target.

The South American side finally found what seemed like a way back into the match in the 73rd minute, when Guardado was shown his second yellow for an off the ball incident and received a red card leaving both teams equal with 10 men.

Seconds later an unmarked Godin headed in the Uruguayan equalizer on a set piece delivered by striker Carlos Sanchez. At that point if looked like game on for Uruguay, who despite having suffered the ignominy of having the wrong national anthem played before the match, seemed to possess the superior quality needed to edge Mexico.

But with just five minutes remaining on the clock the man of the hour for Mexico would prove to be a player whose very presence on the team sheet had been questioned by fans and pundits alike.

Veteran defender Rafa Marquez, who currently plays his club soccer with Atlas, connected with a set piece delivery to get off a right footed shot to the top corner of the net, making it 2-1 in the 85th minute.

Rafael Marquez of Mexico slide tackles Uruguay player, Diego Godin during the first round of match play.

Rafael Marquez of Mexico slide tackles Uruguay player, Diego Godin during the first round of match play.

At that point, it seemed very much within the realm of possibility for Uruguay to secure an equalizer. However, it was not to be.

Halfway through four minutes of added time, Hector Herrera headed in Mexico’s third goal from close range with Raul Jimenez providing the assist, settling the score at 3-1 in the Mexican’s favor.

The result leaves Mexico at the top of Group C ahead of its next game against Jamaica at the Pasadena Rose Bowl on Thursday June 9.

Uruguay, who are still waiting on the return to fitness of Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, will look to get their Copa campaign back on track against Venezuela earlier that same day at Lincoln Financial Field.

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