Ecuador move into Copa quarterfinals after 0-0 draw with Mexico

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Soccer: Copa America-Mexico vs EcuadorJun 30, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Mexico midfielder Orbelin Pineda (17) controls the ball against Ecuador midfielder Moises Caicedo (23) during the first half] in the Copa America soccer tournament at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ecuador reached the Copa America quarterfinals by earning a gritty and dramatic 0-0 draw against Mexico in the teams’ Group B finale on Sunday night in Glendale, Ariz.

Ecuador (1-1-1, 4 points) absorbed pressure throughout the evening to secure the second spot in the group above Mexico (1-1-1, 4 points) based on its superior goal difference. Ecuador finished with a plus-1 goal difference while Mexico’s was even.

Ecuador will advance to face defending champions Argentina on Thursday in Houston in an attempt to advance its first semifinal since they hosted the event in 1993.

Mexico thought it had earned a penalty deep into second-half stoppage time when referee Mario Escobar pointed to the spot after Felix Torres’ challenge on Guillermo Martinez.

But the Guatemalan reversed his decision after a VAR review, where he saw replays showing Torres made contact with the ball before Martinez tumbled to the ground.

Mexico finished its first Copa America since 2016 having scored only once in its three group matches, an output that will see pressure increase on manager Jaime Lozano.

Already the program’s third head coach in the last 24 months, Lozano also drew criticism when Mexico lost the 2024 CONCACAF Nations League final 2-0 to the United States and dropped two friendlies heading into this tournament, including a 4-0 demolition at the hands of Uruguay.

Mexico dominated the flow of play and had 19 shots against Ecuador’s nine, but directed only three on target and none before halftime.

The most threatening sequences often came through Julian Quinones down the left. Seconds after Luis Romo finally forced Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez into his first save in the 65th minute, Quinones decided to try his own luck from distance.

Dominguez made a diving stop, but pushed the rebound only as far as Mexico’s Santi Gimenez, who directed his rebound from a tight angle off the near post.

As Mexico continued to pressure, Ecuador began to offer more threat from the counter. Enner Valencia’s dipping strike forced Julio Gonzalez’s uncertain save in the 68th minute, and he fired wide on the break in the 80th when he could’ve played a pass to a teammate to his right.

–Field Level Media

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