Venezuela advances to Copa America quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over Mexico on Rondón goal

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Arriving at Copa America seeking redemption after disappointing performances in the World Cup and in the CONCACAF Nations League, Mexico is on the verge of an early exit.

Salomón Rondón scored on a penalty kick in the 57th minute, and Venezuela advanced to the Copa America quarterfinals with 1-0 victory over Mexico on Wednesday night.

.Venezuela, which opened with a 2-1 win over Ecuador, is assured finishing among the top two in Group B. Venezuela faces already eliminated Jamaica on Sunday at Austin, Texas.

“I’m happy that we were able to give some joy to the people in Venezuela, we played for that, but we need to remain calm and with our feet on the ground,” Venezuela coach Fernando Batista said. “We are going to enjoy this tonight, but tomorrow we are going to be focused on Jamaica.”

Mexico began with a 1-0 victory over Jamaica and has three points along with Ecuador, which defeated the winless Reggae Boyz 3-1 earlier Wednesday. Mexico plays Ecuador at Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday, and needs a victory to advance.

“It’s a learning experience, but I’m proud of the team because they never stopped fighting. Now it’s up to us and we just talked about it in the locker room,” Mexico coach Jaime Lozano said. “The next game will put us in the next round, we are hurt now, but playing like this, it’s going to be hard for us to lose another game.”

In the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Mexico was eliminated in the first round for the first time since 1978. They lost to the U.S. in the CONCACAF Nations League final in March and have not beaten the Americans since 2019.

Venezuela ended a 13-game winless streak against El Tri.

“Things did not go as expected tonight, but we still got 90 minutes, and no one is getting off this boat. We are going to do it,” Lozano said. "We have to take good out of this and move on. There's just a few days ahead and we want to get back to play again, when things are hard it's when we play our best.”

Before a crowd of 72,773 at SoFi Stadium, Brazilian referee Raphael Claus awarded the penalty kick when Julián Quiñones shoved Jon Aramburu in the penalty area.

Rondón sent his kick to the right of goalkeeper Julio González, who jumped left, and Rondón got his 42nd goal in 107 international appearances. His scoring total is almost double that of Juan Arango, second among Venezuelans with 23.

Mexico was awarded a penalty kick for a handball by Miguel Navarro on Jorge Sánchez’s shot but Rafael Romo leapt to his right to push Orbelín Pineda’s penalty kick wide in the 87th minute.

While the Vinotinto reached the quarterfinals for the third time in four tournaments, Mexico is on the verge of first-round elimination for the third time in its last four Copa America trips.

Under Batista, the Venezuelans have just two losses in their last 15 matches, to Italy and Colombia.

Mexico’s midfield was without Edson Álvarez, who injured a hamstring against Jamaica and will miss the rest of the tournament. Defender César Montes got hurt against Venezuela and was replaced at the start of the second half.

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