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Copa América: Venezuela truimphs against Mexico and qualifies for the quarterfinals in an epic win

With Rafa Romo as the star player and Salomón Rondón as goal scorer, the 'Vinotinto' defeated 1-0 a 'Tri' that lacked precision.

Venezuelan players celebrate with goalkeeper Rafael Romo, who saved a penalty kick at the end of the match.AFP

To win, you have to know how to suffer and, at times, stick to it and have faith.  That's what the Venezuelan national team did, which earned its place in the quarterfinals of the Copa America thanks to a brutal exercise in resilience against Mexico.

With Rafa Romo as their standard-bearer, Bocha Batista's team stubbornly surrendered a penalty goal by captain Salomon Rondon to win by the minimum and reach the six points that puts them at the top of Group B.

Mexico, who dominated most of the match, failed to perform with accuracy.  On some occasions they came up against an insurmountable Romo, who really stood out in the match by stopping a penalty kick at 87' from midfielder Orbelín Pineda.

But it wasn't just the penalty.  Romo also finished the match with four other vital saves, including two clear one-on-one saves against Santiago Giménez and Guillermo Martínez.  In addition, he kept his team safe when he crossed over on the field and even played as a sweeper.  A 100% star performance that largely explains the Venezuelan victory.

Another name that explains why Venezuela is in the quarterfinals is Bocha Batista, the Argentinean coach of the Vinotinto.  In the first half, Mexico dominated the match almost unchallenged in the midfield.  El 'Tri' took advantage of Venezuelan weakness and tactical imbalance who played a 4-2-3-1 formation without a central midfielder in the middle.

Batista, quickly putting the pieces together, put Casseres Jr. in the midfield against one of the attacking midfielders (Savarino) and the Vinotinto managed to subdue Mexico for the first fifteen minutes of the second half.  It was enough time to create opportunities, earn a penalty and take the lead in the match.

Casseres, in fact, was vital in the penalty, combining on the right with right back Aramburu, another of Batista's great decisions in the lineup.

The Real Sociedad fullback, in addition to playing a solid game at the back, was the one who really shined and won the penalty for Venezuela after being brought down by Julián Quiñones.

In the end, it was Salomón Rondón, the historic Venezuelan striker and goal scorer, who changed the penalty into a goal, allowing Venezuela to qualify and set their sights on Jamaica.  They can now dream of replicating that feat in 2011 when they reached the semifinals of Copa América for the first time in their history.