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:
Regardless of the intent, it was a fantastic goal. Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was impressed:
And the same goes for Sports Illustrated's Luis Miguel Echegaray:
Venezuela could not rest easy, however, as sloppy defense led to an Alvarado shot on an open net. The ball went just wide:
Undeterred, Alvarado kept the pressure high, this time coming close on a shot that went wide left:
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:
Tom Marshall of ESPN FC noted how Mexico deserved the goal after some excellent efforts:
Mexico kept Venezuela on its heels after halftime:
And the inevitable occurred shortly thereafter when Pizarro put home a pass from Jesus Gallardo:
The goal was fortuitous: Soccer writer Cesar Hernandez pointed out that Pizarro was about to head off for a substitute:
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:
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:
A few minutes later, Mexico delivered a backbreaking goal when a Uriel Antuna cross led to a Guardado shot:
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:
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
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.