Copa America 2016

Superb goal by Corona puts Mexico through to quarters

Mexico's Jesus Manuel Corona (No. 10) celebrating with team-mates after his dazzling equaliser against Venezuela in a Copa America game in Houston on Monday.
Mexico's Jesus Manuel Corona (No. 10) celebrating with team-mates after his dazzling equaliser against Venezuela in a Copa America game in Houston on Monday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HOUSTON • Midfielder Jesus Manuel "Tecatito" Corona scored a superb individual goal as Mexico snatched a 1-1 draw with Venezuela to qualify for the Copa America Centenario quarter-finals as group winners on Monday.

Mexico appeared to be heading for an embarrassing defeat by the Venezuelans, who led through a 10th-minute overhead kick by defender Jose Manuel Velazquez at Houston's NRG Stadium.

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio benched most of his first-choice side for a game his team only needed to draw to top Group C.

However, with time running out, substitute Corona picked up the ball some 40 metres from goal and dribbled past five Venezuela players before blasting his shot past goalkeeper Dani Hernandez.

The goal gave Mexico a draw which was enough to see them take top spot in Group C on goal difference from Venezuela, who were already assured of a place in the last eight after a shock win over Uruguay in their second match.

More importantly, Mexico's first-place finish - on goal difference - means they will likely avoid tournament favourites Argentina, who need just a point to clinch top spot in Group D when they play Bolivia this morning (Singapore time).

Osorio later defended his decision to pick an untested starting line-up. "Rotation is part of life when you have a squad of players," he said. "We give opportunities to all players because we believe that they are all important. We selected a good group to compete against Venezuela."

In the group's other match, Uruguay finished the tournament on a high with a 3-0 victory over Jamaica in Santa Clara, California.

With both teams already eliminated after losing their opening two games, Uruguay went ahead through Abel Hernandez in the 21st minute and doubled their lead on an own goal in the 66th minute before Mathias Corujo made it 3-0.

Jamaica ended the tournament without picking up a point or scoring a goal.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

GROUP D
Chile v Panama: 7.55am
Argentina v Bolivia: 9.55am
- Singtel TV Ch141 & StarHub Ch213

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'Superb goal by Corona puts Mexico through to quarters'. Print Edition | Subscribe