Bolivia hold Mexico in Copa America stalemate

Vina del Mar (CHile), June 13 (IANS) Bolivia weathered a late onslaught to hold Mexico to a 0-0 draw in their opening Copa America Group A fixture here.

Both sides were left lamenting missed opportunities and Mexico will feel particularly hard done by for not having a late penalty awarded in their favour on Friday, reports Xinhua.

Raul Jimenez, Jesus Corona and Luis Montes all let slip chances to score a winner in a frenetic final 20 minutes.

But it was an incident involving second-half substitute Javier Aquino that was the biggest talking point. Aquino, a 64th-minute replacement for Rafael Marquez, exchanged passes with Jimenez before appearing to be tripped in the area by Leonel Morales.

Paraguayan referee Enrique Caceres paused momentarily before waving away appeals for a penalty.

Mexico coach Miguel Herrera did not hide his frustration on the sidelines, but upon reflection he will have been equally rueful of his team’s lack of cutting edge in attack.

Javier Hernandez, Andres Guardado and Giovani Dos Santos were spared the trip to Chile as Herrera focuses on next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

In the trio’s absence it was left to Matias Vuoso and Eduardo Herrera to lead their team’s front line at the Estadio Sausalito. Both struggled to assert their influence early despite Mexico’s clear midfield dominance.

Corona was particularly dangerous going forward, showing good understanding with Javier Guemez and Juan Medina.

But it was Bolivia who had the best of the first-half chances.

Ricardo Pedriel hit the woodwork after Martin Smedberg’s cross and Jhasmani Campos forced a diving save from Jose Corona with a long-range effort.

Mexico lifted another gear after halftime. Corona sliced a shot wide of the target when he had more time to compose himself and then Romel Quinonez rushed off his line to deny Medina after Herrera’s flick.

As Mexico surged forward in numbers, Mauricio Soria’s team increasingly sat back and played for time.

Former Wigan Athletic striker Marcelo Moreno almost scored against the run of play for Bolivia but he skewed his shot badly after a darting run.

The result means Bolivia are winless in 16 Copa America matches dating back to 1997.

Soria’s side will now meet Ecuador in Valparaiso on Monday while Mexico confront Chile at Santiago’s Estadio Nacional on the same day.

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