Pasadena — When Javier Hernandez headed home an early goal
for Mexico, he set off a seismic celebration at a Rose Bowl packed to bursting
with green-clad fans.
He also sent Copa America's other home team rolling toward
the next round.
Chicharito scored on a first-half header, and Mexico
survived a tense second half to advance to the Copa America quarterfinals with
a 2-0 victory over Jamaica on Thursday night.
Substitute Oribe Peralta scored in the 81st minute and
goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa made several big stops in El Tri's 11th consecutive
win in international play, including both games in this tournament.
"In general terms, we were superior in front of a great
opponent," said Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who is still perfect in
his new job. "If that opponent gets in front of anybody, they will score.
We are very satisfied."
Mexico advanced from its group along with surprising
Venezuela, which beat Uruguay earlier. Mexico and Venezuela will meet Monday in
Houston to determine the higher seed in knockout play.
The Rose Bowl crowd of 83,263 was utterly dominated by
cheers for the most passionately supported team in this U.S.-based tournament.
El Tri attracts enormous crowds wherever it plays north of the border, but none
are consistently bigger and more passionate than those in Los Angeles' enormous
Also read: In-form Chicharito headlines Mexico's Copa America squad
"We thought that we understood how much passion the
national team generates in the (U.S.)-Mexican population, but in the last three
games, I have to admit that I had no clue," said Osorio, favorably
comparing Mexico's Rose Bowl support to Manchester United's backing at Old
"Or better yet, I misunderstood, because what we heard
today, the noise in today's match was absolutely amazing," Osorio added.
"It was absolutely outstanding, and I think the players feel that and try
to play their best, because we don't see that as a bad thing. On the contrary,
we think it's fantastic. We can only wish to play every single match in an
environment like tonight's."
Chicharito put Mexico ahead in the 18th minute with an
exceptional goal, outjumping Wes Morgan and claiming an early lead in the
rematch of last year's Gold Cup final. The 28-year-old Hernandez got his 45th
career goal for Mexico, leaving him one shy of tying Jared Borgetti's national team
But Mexico struggled in several stretches, relying on big
saves and a bit of fortunate refereeing to keep it even, before Peralta came on
for Chicharito and promptly scored a late goal.
Ochoa was forced to make several big plays after sitting out
the opener, including a diving fingertip save of Michael Hector's long strike
in the 84th minute.
The Mexicans remained unbeaten in 21 consecutive
international matches, and they improved to 9-0-0 under Osorio.
Jamaica was eliminated while going scoreless in its second
straight Copa America match. The Reggae Boyz pressed throughout the night, but
didn't convert their chances and couldn't get a call on two potential
"When you play against a Mexican team, it's always
important you take your chances," Jamaica assistant coach Miguel Coley
said. "We played as a team, and I applaud the team for that. Our
expectation for the group was to definitely go to the next round. The penalty
calls, and when we missed the chances, those were important moments."
Despite the raucous fan support — or perhaps because of it —
Mexico had a few nervy defensive moments early, including a missed net by
Clayton Donaldson on a good counterattacking chance for Jamaica.
Mexico went ahead when Jesus Manuel Corona tracked down Raul
Jimenez's cross and sent it back in front to Chicharito. The Bayer Leverkusen
star outjumped Leicester's Morgan, who didn't start Jamaica's opener because
coach Winfried Schaefer said he was too tired from partying to celebrate the
Foxes' Premier League title.
Jamaica pressed forward again, but defender Yasser Corona
blocked a close shot by Je-Vaughn Watson of the New England Revolution in the
Ochoa made a series of canny stops in the 39th minute as
Jamaica pressed forward heavily for an equalizer. Mexico couldn't counter and
struggled even for possession, managing just one shot in the first half.
Jamaica's strong play continued after halftime. When Yasser
Corona took down Donaldson in the penalty area in the 64th minute, Jamaica's
incensed bench demanded what appeared to be an obvious penalty, to no avail.
Mexico finally finished when Hirving Lozano made a long run
and found Hector Herrera, who dropped it off to Peralta.
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