Double blow for Uruguay

Mexico's Javier Hernandez (left) and Uruguay's Jose Gimenez tussling for possession in their Copa America match in Glendale, Arizona. Mexico won 3-1 to add insult to injury for the losers, as Chile's anthem was played before kick-off instead of the U
Mexico's Javier Hernandez (above) and Uruguay's Jose Gimenez tussling for possession in their Copa America match in Glendale, Arizona. Mexico won 3-1 to add insult to injury for the losers, as Chile's anthem was played before kick-off instead of the Uruguay one. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Loss to Mexico in heated game caps bad night after anger over anthem blunder

GLENDALE (California) • Mexico defeated Uruguay 3-1 in a stormy Copa America Centenario duel on Sunday, that saw both teams finish with 10 men after a pre-match furore over a bungled national anthem.

A pulsating clash at the University of Phoenix stadium in Arizona saw Mexico take all three points in the crucial Group C battle, thanks to an own goal from Alvaro Pereira and late strikes from Rafa Marquez and Hector Herrera.

Uruguay's lone strike came from captain Diego Godin, the Atletico Madrid player heading in an equaliser 16 minutes from time that looked to have secured the South Americans a share of the points.

But 37-year-old Marquez's emphatic strike into the roof of the net on 85 minutes put Mexico 2-1 up before Herrera added a third in injury time to complete a memorable victory for El Tri.

Uruguay's players angrily remonstrated with match officials at the final whistle in an ill-tempered finale that capped a miserable afternoon for La Celeste.

Before kick-off, Uruguay's players had looked baffled as they lined up for their national anthem - with for South American rivals Chile's anthem being played by mistake.

Copa America Centenario organisers apologised swiftly for the blunder. "We sincerely apologise to the Uruguayan Federation, the Uruguay National Team, the people of Uruguay and to the fans for this mistake," a statement said, blaming the gaffe on "human error".

Mexico's Andres Guardado picked up two yellow cards in the match and Uruguay's Matius Vecino was also sent off for kicking Jesus Manuel Corona in the knee.

Guardado said after the game: "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."

His counterpart Oscar Tabarez rues his team's missed chances.

"They struggled and tied the game," he said. "Mexico happened to get the goals and it's a just result."

Mexico have not lost in 20 consecutive games but they have yet to clinch a Copa America title.

Uruguay, on the other hand, have been champions 15 times but they were without their star player - Barcelona's Luis Suarez, who suffered a hamstring injury in a match two weeks ago.

In Group C's other match, Venezuela defeated Jamaica 1-0.

Colombia captain James Rodriguez is nursing a shoulder injury and will miss their Copa America Group A match against Paraguay today, the Colombian Football Federation (FCF) said. He had dislocated his shoulder during Colombia's 2-0 win over the US on Friday.

Edwin Cardona, who had started against the United States alongside Rodriguez, is his possible replacement in a playmaking role.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

PANAMA V BOLIVIA

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ARGENTINA V CHILE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2016, with the headline 'Double blow for Uruguay'. Print Edition | Subscribe