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HomeNews247Mexico 0-0 Ecuador takeaways: Mexico eliminated, warnings over homophobic chant

Mexico 0-0 Ecuador takeaways: Mexico eliminated, warnings over homophobic chant

Mexico needed to beat Ecuador in their final Group B match to advance to the Copa America knockout stage, but all they could manage was a 0-0 draw. They nearly found a lifeline in the final seconds of added time when the referee initially awarded Mexico a penalty but after reviewing the video the call was overturned.

Mexico managed to score just one goal in 270 minutes across group play in a dismal tournament for the 2026 World Cup co-hosts. Towards end of Sunday’s game, three announcements were also made over the tannoy at State Farm Stadium warning fans to stop a discriminatory chant. A statement warning the referee had the right to suspend the match if the homophobic slur continued was also shown in Spanish on the big screen.

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And Ecuador’s prize for holding off Mexico? A quarterfinal date with world champions Argentina in Houston on July 4.

Stuart James and Thom Harris assess the key talking points…


Will Argentina be worried by what they saw in this match?

Nerves? Maybe. Enough to worry Argentina? Absolutely not.

This was a must-win game for Mexico, and one that Ecuador would have rather not left to chance, but for long spells of a scrappy, tetchy game, it looked as if neither side really had what it took. Poor first touches, aimless long balls, slips, falls and fouls, a goalless opening 45 minutes in particular had it all.

A passage of play on the half-hour mark summed it up, as Alan Franco needlessly bounced a five-yard pass up to Piero Hincapie’s chest. The left-back had no choice but to control, and volley it wildly down the line. Two minutes later, the usually pristine Bayer Leverkusen centre-back skewed another long ball horribly out of play. When Ecuador did break into the final third – like they did with Enner Valencia on 80 minutes – it was baffling decision-making that let them down.


Alexander Dominguez celebrates after sealing Ecuador’s place in the quarter-finals (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Mexico were not bursting with ideas either, and although they noticeably upped the intensity in the second half as their need for a goal became greater, the best chances arrived from set-pieces, penalty-box pinball and moments of individualism, rather than anything manufactured in the dressing room. A 96th-minute penalty, eventually overturned by VAR, would have been the most dramatic get-out-of-jail card of the competition.

With the defending world champions awaiting in the next round, things will have to be tidied up. Argentina have kept clean sheets in seven of their last eight competitive games, and will certainly not be broken down without a more intricate plan.


Santi Gimenez’s goalless group stage

Lost causes. Santiago Gimenez spent a lot of time chasing those on another frustrating evening for the Mexico striker, who leaves the Copa America without a goal to his name and his barren streak for his country extended to 12 matches.

It was not for a lack of trying. A header that sailed inches over in the first half was followed by a right-footed shot that hit the outside of the post in the second period. In between times, Gimenez never stopped running the channels, seeking out the long balls that Mexico hoped would bring some joy.

Mexico


(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

His big chance had come in the previous game, against Venezuela, and you wonder how differently things might have turned out for Gimenez if he had cleanly connected in front of goal in Los Angeles.

Prolific in a Feyenoord shirt, the 23-year-old has been unable to transfer that form to international football. Inevitably, questions will be asked in Mexico about the decision to leave Henry Martin and Raul Jimenez, two experienced strikers, at home. But the quality of Mexico’s attacking play more generally suggested that any centre forward would have struggled to make much of an impact here.

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What went wrong for Mexico?

The disappointment will linger for some time for Mexico, whose hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the Copa America were extinguished in predictable fashion.

Predictable because Mexico have carried so little attacking threat, with their solitary tournament goal scored by the left-back Gerardo Arteaga in an opening game against Jamaica that feels a long time ago now.

Defeat against Venezuela, when Orbelin Pineda missed a penalty, meant that El Tri needed to beat Ecuador to progress – an outcome that rarely looked likely in a game that exposed Mexico’s limitations. They huffed and puffed but there was a glaring lack of quality.

Mexico failed to progress from the group stage at the 2011 and 2015 Copa America tournaments but this latest setback will hurt. On the face of it, Mexico had a kind draw, yet they were still unable to find a way past two second-tier CONMEBOL nations.

The spotlight will now fall on Jaime Lozano, the coach who had been assured that he would remain in place until the end of the 2026 World Cup. Will elimination in the group stage here prompt a rethink?


Johan Vasquez dejected after Mexico’s elimination is sealed (Chris Coduto/AFP via Getty Images)


What’s next for each team?

Argentina vs. Ecuador — Thursday, July 4, 9:00 p.m. ET (NRG Stadium, Houston, TX)

Mexico is eliminated from the tournament.


What did the managers say?

Ecuador coach Felix Sanchez on facing Argentina: “They are defending world champions, Copa America champions, and they have the best players in the world, playing at the best clubs in the world. They have a solid group, and have developed a clear idea under the same coach (Lionel Scaloni)… We are going to have to play a perfect game, but we go into it motivated. It’s 11 vs 11 and we are going to do everything we possibly can.”

Mexico coach Jaime Lozano on his future: “Whenever you don’t achieve your objectives there are going to be doubts, but if the players believed until the end it’s for a reason, it’s not easy to create that union, this circle and this commitment that they had for seven weeks before and during this competition. There is a process and others will decide what happens next but for me it’s clear that we went out and were protagonists.” 

Lozano on what’s missing for Mexico: “We have improved a lot defensively, but now we have to find that balance and work on that patience, that final touch in the attacking third. We’ve gained a lot from these players in this tournament and it’s an experience that will help us.”


Required reading

(Top photo: Chris Cuduto/AFP via Getty Images)

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