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Copa América: Mexico rallies to beat Jamaica 1-0

The Mexican side is now second in Group B, behind Venezuela, which remains in first after its victory against Ecuador.

Imagen del partido del grupo B de la Copa América entre México y Jamaica que tuvo lugar el sábado, 22 de junio y donde México se impuso 1-0 a Jamaica

(Alejandro Salazar / PX Imagens via ZUMA Press

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(AFP / VOZ MEDIA) Mexico earned an nail-biting 1-0 victory against Jamaica Saturday in Group B of Copa América-2024, momentarily silencing criticism for its poor performances.

The lone goal for Mexico came in the 69th minute with a powerful shot by Gerardo Arteaga, after a pass from Luis Romo, which caused NRG Stadium in Houston to erupt.

The team led by Jaime Lozano suffered a hard blow in the first half when their captain, Edson Álvarez, was injured after a non-contact action that could risk their spot in the tournament.

There was a scare for Mexico when Michail Antonio took advantage of a gap in the Mexican defense to score with a header. However, VAR called offside and annulled what would have been the Reggae Boyz's first goal in the Copa América.

"I think we suffered more. We knew that they are dangerous with long balls and they put balls into our area, but I am calm and proud of all of them and the fans," Lozano said at a press conference at the end of the match.

The Mexican squad needed a victory to clean its slate and win back its elusive fan base, which complained about its poor results in the friendlies prior to the tournament, after Lozano restructured the team and left out players such as veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

The result leaves Mexico second in Group B, behind Venezuela, which beat Ecuador 2-1 earlier in Santa Clara, Calif.

Optimism at the start of the Copa América

Mexico started by controlling the ball, mounting quick attacks and quickly recovering. The first clear shot came after three minutes, with a shot from Luis Chávez, although goalkeeper Jahmali Waite was almost always well positioned.

Mexico insisted on looking to penetrate mainly from the right side in build-up play with Julián Quiñones and Santiago Giménez. But Quiñones was not at his sharpest, and Uriel Antuna struggled as well.

Right back Jorge Sánchez (FC Porto) tried on some occasions to come up on the wing, although Gregory Leigh, Ethan Pinnock and Kasey Palmer controlled this action without problems.

Jamaica reacted with speed in the counterattack, looking for fouls and crosses, aware of the weakness of their rivals in the aerial game.

Álvarez's pain

It was precisely in one of these counterattacks that Mexico suffered, physically and emotionally.

Not even half an hour had passed into the match when Mexico's captain, Edson Álvarez (West Ham United), collapsed while running towards his goal.

Holding his left leg and in clear pain, he called for help. The captain was helped off the field, while the bench was waiting for him at the edge of the field to cheer him on.

As detailed by the DT, in two days, the medical examinations will determine what happened and how serious the injury is to the captain, who was replaced by Luis Romo, who tried to honor his captain and get his team on the scoreboard at the end of the first half with a shot over the crossbar. His feat, however, would come later.

César Montes, recovered and back in the team, also tried with a header that Waite controlled.

Despite these opportunities, after Álvarez's injury, Jamaica seemed to gain courage and revealed some shortcomings in the Mexican defense.

Jamaica scares

At the end of the first half, Michail Antonio threatened, when he beat a couple of defenders on the right and launched a dangerous cross that goalkeeper González cleared.

And upon returning from the locker room, he ended up surprising the Mexican defense. The West Ham man and orchestrated an attack from the left that he combined with Reid, who returned it to him in the center. Antonio connected with a header that got past González's.

However, once again, after the celebration and the initial scare, VAR detected offside.

Mexico comes back to life

Coach Jaime Lozano, who has been criticized for not reacting in time when his team begins to be surpassed, warmed up his bench.

"We went badly in the second half ... the goal [against us] was offside and it is clear that that woke us up, and made us go for a goal," he considered.

He substituted Guillermo Martínez for Santiago Jiménez and Carlos Rodríguez for Orbelín Pineda. Both subs were key in Mexico's recovery.

This is how the winning goal appeared, in a collective action that reached Romo, who passed to Arteaga, who finished from the left side of the area.

After that goal, Jamaica fell into disarray and left Mexico to savor its momentary glory.

On Wednesday, Mexico will play its next game against Venezuela at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., while Ecuador will meet Jamaica at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.