The 2016 Copa America Centenario has finally woken up! Late Sunday night, Mexico battled Uruguay, with El Tri ultimately coming away with a 3-1 victory. The match certainly wasn’t without controversy, as Uruguay’s Matias Vecino and Mexico’s Andres Guardado both earned red cards. There was also a disallowed goal and a Mexico assistant coach sent off for criticizing the referee (to put it mildly).
And yet, all that paled in comparison to the scenes before and after Rafa Marquez’s 85th minute goal, which put Mexico ahead 2-1. The sequence prior to the Mexico legend’s strike proves the importance of maintaining a level head and the complete stupidity of arguing with the referee.
In this instance, it was Uruguay’s focus on the official’s performance rather than their own that cost them the match. Here’s what happened…
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With the scores level late in the second half, Mexico have won a corner. Uruguay are utilizing man-marking to defend the set piece, with CB Diego Godin marking El Tri's Rafa Marquez.
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As the corner is delivered, Marquez rises to meet the ball. Godin attempts to do the same, from a more stationary position.
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It's difficult to tell from the camera angle, but it appears that Marquez mishits the header. If you're a supporter of Mexico, it probably looks as though the ball strikes his shoulder. If you're Uruguayan, you would more likely say it hits the Mexican legend's arm.
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Note that both Diego Godin and a second Uruguayan player are already calling for handball before the play is completed.
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Once the ball is cleared into touch and Mexico earn a second corner on the opposite side of the field, at least 5 Uruguayan players turn on the referee to protest the non-call.
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Diego Godin continues his protest to the opposite side of the goal area, ultimately earning a yellow card for dissent.
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Following Godin's caution, goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, forward Edinson Cavani, defender Jose Gimenez, and midfielder Egidio Arevalo Rios continue to argue that a handball should have been called.
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This continues protest is important for two reasons. Firstly, it mentally distracts the Uruguayan players. Secondly, it means that, at a critical moment in the game, three players who are directly responsible for organizing the defense (Muslera, Gimenez and Godin) are focused on other events. Moreover, Arevalo Rios (note the arrow) is, as we shall soon see, now at least 40 yards away from his eventual defensive position.
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When play finally resumes, Mexico take the corner short, with the ball played into the feet of Hirving Lozano. Arevalo Rios might have been in a better defensive position had he not previously been arguing with the referee. Instead, he is too far from his eventual mark.
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In usual circumstances, when a corner is played back 20 yards, the defense steps out to either draw their opponents offside or force them into a less advantageous position. Most of the Uruguayan players pursued this policy. Gimenez and Godin, however, stayed back, thereby keeping two Mexico players (including Marquez) onside. This is quite possibly a direct result of the aforementioned mental distraction, since both defenders are veterans and know better than to remain in place.