PHILADELPHIA • Venezuela pulled off the biggest shock of the Copa America Centenario so far by beating 15-time champions Uruguay 1-0 to reach the quarter-finals on Thursday.
A goal by Salomon Rondon after 36 minutes was enough to give Venezuela the three points and eliminate the team that lead South American qualifying for the 2018 World Cup Finals.
Uruguay, the 2011 Copa winners, were eliminated in the group phase for the first time since 1997, and coach Oscar Tabarez said: "We never found the game we wanted and that cost us.
"It's been a very different Copa America. I've never experienced something like this before. We knew it was going to be difficult but this should be a wake-up call before the World Cup qualifiers."
Uruguay's defeat also capped a miserable tournament for Barcelona star Luis Suarez, who was nursing a hamstring injury when he joined the squad and had yet to play a single minute.
The forward looked visibly frustrated at his failure to get on the pitch, at one point appearing to punch the dugout wall.
Tabarez defended his decision not to name Suarez in the matchday squad, saying: "The player is not fit to play. I will not select a player who is not 100 per cent. Was he angry? I am not aware. To me, he told me nothing."
Venezuela's winner came when midfielder Alejandro Guerra spotted Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera off his line, and unleashed a long-range effort from near the halfway line which the back-pedalling Muslera could only parry onto the bar for Rondon to bundle in the rebound.
"To beat the 'Maestro' Tabarez is a privilege," Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel said. "He's one of the best coaches in the world, in history. This win will motivate us to keep winning and growing as a team."
Venezuela will face Mexico in their final first-round game to determine who finishes top of Group C.
Mexico, who had beaten Uruguay 3-1 in their opening game, proved too powerful for Jamaica in a 2-0 victory at the Pasadena Rose Bowl.
They took the lead on 18 minutes when former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Javier Hernandez nodded in his 45th international goal. Oribe Peralta, who came on for Hernandez in the second half, completed the scoring 10 minutes from time.
The win was coach Juan Carlos Osorio's 10th consecutive victory since taking over last year.
Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa said: "This team have personality and character. It's another step forward but we need to keep calm. Now we face Venezuela, which will be difficult, but we will work hard to keep moving forward."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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