A stunning solo effort from Jesus Corona saw Mexico seal a 1-1 draw with Venezuela, ensuring it finished top of Group C.
Substitute Jesus “Tecatito” Corona produced a late moment of individual brilliance, helping Mexico seal top spot in Group C with a 1-1 draw against Venezuela at the Copa America Centenario.
Jose Velazquez had Venezuela on its way to a shock win at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday courtesy of his stunning overhead kick in the first half.
But Jesus Corona was the hero for Mexico, scoring with 10 minutes remaining to ensure El Tri finished top of the group at the special-edition centenary tournament.
The victory also meant Mexico extended its unbeaten run to an incredible 22 games, but the team’s 11-match winning run was ended.
While top spot in the group was up for grabs, Mexico and Venezuela had already qualified for the quarterfinals of the competition, and there were plenty of changes made by both sides.
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio made nine changes to the starting XI that beat Jamaica 2-0, while Venezuela counterpart Rafael Dudamel made five from his side’s 1-0 win over Uruguay.
One of those five changes was Velazquez, who justified his selection in the 10th minute.
A free kick was flicked on by Christian Santos, and center back Velazquez looked more like a well-versed striker, converting the goal with an scissor kick to give Venezuela a surprise lead.
Mexico knew a loss would more than likely mean a quarterfinal clash against Argentina, and was keen to get back level as soon as possible.
Hirving Lozano came close to finding an equalizer after playing a neat one-two with Oribe Peralta, but his shot was directed straight at Daniel Hernandez.
Lozano had a header miss the target not long after, before a diving effort from Corona – who came on in place of the injured Javier Aquino after 18 minutes – also went wide of Hernandez’s goal.
Mexico pushed hard in the early stages of the second half and it took an unorthodox block from Wilker Angel to deny Peralta what looked to be a certain goal.
However, it was Venezuela which should have made it 2-0 when Josef Martinez was played through on goal just a minute after coming on, but the forward’s tame effort was saved by Mexico goalkeeper Jose Corona.
Miguel Layun, also a second-half substitute, had a chance for Mexico less than 60 seconds later but his effort went straight to Daniel Hernandez through a few bodies.
Osorio introduced Javier Hernandez shortly after and the Bayer Leverkusen forward almost had an immediate impact, but a free header in the box came off his shoulder and went out for a goal kick.
Mexico was then denied by a stunning double save from Hernandez, who tipped away Diego Reyes’ header before blocking the follow-up from Hector Moreno.
Jesus Corona continued to threaten the Venezuela goal before he finally made the breakthrough in the 80th minute.
The 23-year-old Porto winger dribbled his way through a sea of Venezuela defenders before blasting a shot past the helpless Daniel Hernandez.
Venezuela came close to winning it in dramatic fashion through Martinez, but the Torino striker’s overhead kick was brilliantly tipped out for a corner by Jose Corona, with the game ending 1-1. (Goal.com)