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Mexico Grabs Easy Win vs. Venezuela in Gold Cup Warm-Up

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJune 6, 2019

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 05: Roberto Alvarado of Mexico celebrates with teammates after scoring the equalizer during the international friendly match between Mexico and Venezuela at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on June 5, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
Omar Vega/Getty Images

Roberto Alvarado, Rodolfo Pizarro and Andres Guardado each scored as Mexico defeated Venezuela 3-1 in an international friendly at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Wednesday.

El Tri outshot Venezuela 16-11 and had seven shots on goal to Venezuela's four. Mexico controlled possession for 58 percent of the match.

Jhon Murillo scored the lone Venezuelan goal to initially put his side up 1-0 at the 18th minute. Alvarado put home the equalizer in the 32nd before Pizarro scored the go-ahead goal in the 54th.

Murillo's goal was a happy accident at first glance. It seemed as though he was looking for a cross, but the pass found its way into the net behind goaltender Jonathan Orozco:

Univision Deportes @UnivisionSports

¡¡GOOOOLAAAAZOOOOO AZOOOOO AZOOOOO!! Murillo con un Riflazo sorprende al arquero y la manda a guardar en el fondo de las redes @Miseleccionmx 🇲🇽 0-1 @SeleVinotinto 🇻🇪 Disfruta EN VIVO 👉 https://t.co/PtY1LBxKSM https://t.co/fjVDzuVzBr

Regardless of the intent, it was a fantastic goal. Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was impressed:

Doug Roberson @DougRobersonAJC

Seriously, that goal by Jhon Murillo should top every top 10 play of the day. Certainly better than yet another double play

And the same goes for Sports Illustrated's Luis Miguel Echegaray:

Luis Miguel Echegaray @lmechegaray

Speaking of Jhon Murillo...he just scored A BEAUTY. Trying to figure out if he meant it but regardless....DIOS MÍO.

Venezuela could not rest easy, however, as sloppy defense led to an Alvarado shot on an open net. The ball went just wide:

Univision Deportes @UnivisionSports

Por poco lo empata el Tri tras un error de la defensa @Miseleccionmx 🇲🇽 0-1 @SeleVinotinto 🇻🇪 Disfruta EN VIVO 👉 https://t.co/PtY1LBxKSM https://t.co/a2cO4O1fo4

Undeterred, Alvarado kept the pressure high, this time coming close on a shot that went wide left:

Univision Deportes @UnivisionSports

¡Alvarado por poco marca! Esa pelota llevaba veneno @Miseleccionmx 🇲🇽 0-1 @SeleVinotinto 🇻🇪 Disfruta EN VIVO 👉 https://t.co/PtY1LBxKSM https://t.co/D36E64zi52

An Alvardo breakthrough seemed inevitable given his ability to put constant pressure on Venezuela, plus his opponent's sloppy defense. That happened in the 32nd minute when a failed clear led to his first international goal:

Univision Deportes @UnivisionSports

¡¡GOOOOOOOOOOLLL DE MÉXICO!! ¡¡GOOOOOOOOOOLLL DE MÉXICO!! Alvarado aprovecha un error defensivo y con un cañonazo se empata el partido. @Miseleccionmx 🇲🇽 1-1 @SeleVinotinto 🇻🇪 https://t.co/ujAjTAFUxN

Tom Marshall of ESPN FC noted how Mexico deserved the goal after some excellent efforts:

Tom Marshall @mexicoworldcup

Gooooool Mexico! Alvarado thrashes the ball in to level the scores. Deserved for El Tri. #eltrieng

Mexico kept Venezuela on its heels after halftime:

Univision Deportes @UnivisionSports

Atento Wuilker Fariñez @Miseleccionmx 🇲🇽 1-1 @SeleVinotinto 🇻🇪 Disfruta EN VIVO 👉 https://t.co/PtY1LBxKSM https://t.co/WjcihIVi15

And the inevitable occurred shortly thereafter when Pizarro put home a pass from Jesus Gallardo:

Univision Deportes @UnivisionSports

¡¡GOOOOOOOOOLLLL DE PIZARROOOOOO!! En un contra golpe fenomenal de Alvarado, la centra y Pizarro la manda a guardar @Miseleccionmx 🇲🇽 2-1 @SeleVinotinto 🇻🇪 https://t.co/vC8roPb4IF

The goal was fortuitous: Soccer writer Cesar Hernandez pointed out that Pizarro was about to head off for a substitute:

Cesar Hernandez @cesarhfutbol

Pizarro was about to be substituted out, Tata decides to keep him in. Literally scores less than a minute later. Incredible. #ElTriEng

Mexico kept its foot on the gas with two point-blank shots in the 63rd minute: a header from Raul Jimenez and a right-footed shot via Nestor Araujo:

Univision Deportes @UnivisionSports

¡Se salva la Vinotinto! @Miseleccionmx 🇲🇽 2-1 @SeleVinotinto 🇻🇪 Disfruta EN VIVO 👉 https://t.co/PtY1LBxKSM https://t.co/aH86TYvwyw

Neither connected, but Mexico cruised to the finish line from there minus one brief scare.

That came courtesy of Juanpi, who had a great chance at the equalizer with a shot from the center of the box at the 72nd minute. However, Orozco came through with the clutch save:

Univision Deportes @UnivisionSports

¡Juanpi de zurda por poco empata el partido! @Miseleccionmx 🇲🇽 2-1 @SeleVinotinto 🇻🇪 Disfruta EN VIVO 👉 https://t.co/PtY1LBxKSM https://t.co/tpfrbq6ymh

A few minutes later, Mexico delivered a backbreaking goal when a Uriel Antuna cross led to a Guardado shot:

Univision Deportes @UnivisionSports

¡EL PRINCIPITO! GUARDADO CON TODO EL TIEMPO DEL MUNDO SACA UN RIFLAZO Y MARCA EL TERCERO @Miseleccionmx 🇲🇽 3-1 @SeleVinotinto 🇻🇪 Disfruta EN VIVO 👉 https://t.co/PtY1LBxKSM https://t.co/oiRhrG1N6z

The exuberant Atlanta crowd cheered loudly for Guardado, who now has 154 international caps for El Tri. Jon Arnold of Goal set the scene in Atlanta:

Jon Arnold @ArnoldcommaJon

With the ovation he got coming on and the cheer for that goal, almost feel like fans in Atlanta are trying to show Andres Guardado what could have been (or could be?) had the rumored move come through.

Atlanta United FC was apparently interested in bringing Guardado to the club a couple of years ago, but that did not come to fruition. However, he did excel in Atlanta if only for one night, scoring his goal after just eight minutes on the pitch following a substitution.

Venezuela did make one late charge to cut the advantage in half, but Orozco saved a Juanpi shot in the 89th minute.

Hernandez summed up the night well: Ultimately, it was an impressive win for Mexico given that the team was sans some bigger names.

Cesar Hernandez @cesarhfutbol

FT Mexico 3-1 Venezuela Excellent stuff from Mexico after initially going down 1-0 by the 18th minute. Even without some big stars, names like Pizarro, Navarro, Antuna, Gallardo and Alvarado helped carry Mexico to a comfortable victory. 3 wins in 3 games for Tata. #ElTriEng

What's Next?

The friendly served as a warm-up for Mexico and Venezuela before the Gold Cup and Copa America, respectively.

Both countries' opening matches will take place on Saturday, June 15. Mexico will face Cuba, and Venezuela will match up with Peru.

Per Oddschecker, Mexico is the favorite in the 16-team Gold Cup. Venezuela has far steeper odds in the 12-team Copa America, ranking anywhere from 25-1 to 40-1 to win outright.

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