GENERAL NEWS

Ecuador earns spot in Copa America quarterfinals with draw against Mexico at State Farm Stadium

Jun 30, 2024, 8:03 PM

Mexico's Jorge Sanchez, left, and Ecuador's Jeremy Sarmiento fight for the ball during a Copa Ameri...

Mexico's Jorge Sanchez, left, and Ecuador's Jeremy Sarmiento fight for the ball during a Copa America Group B soccer match in Glendale, Ariz., Sunday, June 30, 2024. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Ecuador avoided a penalty shot in stoppage time after a review and earned a spot the Copa America quarterfinals with a 0-0 draw against Mexico on Sunday night.

Mexico initially received a penalty kick from referee Mario Alberto Escobar Toca when Ecuador’s Félix Torres took down Mexican forward Guillermo Martínez in the penalty box. VAR rescinded the penalty and Mexico was awarded a corner kick, sending in a chorus of boos raining down from the Mexican fans at State Farm Stadium.

Ahead on goal differential, Ecuador weathered a second-half push by Mexico at State Farm Stadium to finish second in Group B behind Venezuela. Ecuador will face Group A winner Argentina in the quarterfinals Thursday in Houston.

Mexico failed to get out of the group stage for the fourth time in its last five Copa America appearances, which could put coach Jaime Lozano’s job in jeopardy.

El Tri was eliminated in the first round of the World Cup for the first time since 1978 in Qatar two years ago and lost to the United States in CONCACAF Nations League final in March.

Mexico needs a win to advance after losing 1-0 to Venezuela on a penalty kick in the 57th minute and beating Jamaica 1-0 in the tournament opener.

Ecuador, ahead 4-1 in goal differential, only needed a draw to reach the quarterfinals following a 3-1 win over Jamaica and a 2-1 loss to group leader Venezuela.

Mexico had a slight advantage in possession the first half (54%) and took seven shots, but continued its struggles with efficiency.

El Tri didn’t have a shot on goal and its best scoring chance came in the final minutes of the half, when Santiago Giménez sent a header over the crossbar.

Ecuador had the best chance of the half in the 19th minute, when Kendry Paez’s shot to the near post on free kick forced Julio González to make a save.

Mexico began ramping up the pressure early in the second half, creating more scoring opportunities.

El Tri and its fans were irate when referee Toca didn’t call a foul when Ecuador’s Félix Torres took down Gerardo Arteaga in the penalty box, but the non-call was upheld on VAR. Giménez sent another header over the crossbar on the ensuing corner kick.

Julián Quiñones had Mexico’s best chance a few minutes later, rifling a shot from just inside the box that Alexander Domínguez sprawled out to knock away. Giménez’s shot on the rebound hit the outside of the goal.

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