Mexico struggle for draw with 10-man Venezuela
A week of turmoil for the Mexican national team ended in similar fashion as El Tri managed only a 2-2 draw with 10-man Venezuela in a friendly Tuesday night in Ciudad Juárez.
Twice, Mexico fell behind thanks to two brilliant free kicks from Venezuela’s Juan Arango, only to pull level through Javier "Chicharito" Hernández and Giovani dos Santos.
New York Red Bulls midfielder and Mexico captain Rafa Márquez started for Mexico, while Philadelphia Union striker Alejandro Moreno started up top for Venezuela.
Mexico, under interim coach Efraín Flores, entered the match amid an upheaval, including the ongoing spat with 13 regulars, the suspensions of stars Carlos Vela and Efraín Juárez, and the resignation on Monday night of unpopular team director Nestor de la Torre.
Despite a packed house at Estadio Benito Juárez, El Tri’s fortunes didn’t improve once the game started. Arango put the visitors into the lead in the seventh minute.
The Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder’s swerving free kick from about 25 yards out on the left side whipped over the wall and beat poorly positioned goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa at the near post.
But Venezuela’s positive start took a turn for the worse in the 24th minute when former Red Bull Gabriel Cichero fouled Jorge Iván “Guti” Estrada, drawing his second yellow card and an early exit.
Mexico soon took advantage of their superior numbers. Chicharito evened the score in the 34th minute. A long cross sent in from the right side by Elías Hernández bounced across the goalmouth, presenting the late-arriving Manchester United star with the simplest of headers to level the score at 1-1.
But the deadlock didn’t last long. In the 40th minute, Arango did it again, this time with a dipping left-footed free kick blast from 33 yards that left Ochoa flailing at air.
After the break, Mexico pressed for another equalizer, and finally got it in the 61st minute. Dos Santos collected the ball at the top of the area on the right side, drove past a defender and, from an acute angle, ripped an unstoppable shot into the far upper corner.
In the 68th minute, Columbus Crew striker Emilio Renteria replaced Moreno in the Venezuela attack, and despite providing some energy, he was unable to make a definitive impact. The match ended 2-2, leaving Mexico with even more questions than they had 90 minutes earlier.
VEN – Arango, 7'
MEX – Hernández, 34’
VEN – Arango, 40'
MEX – Dos Santos, 61’
Mexico – Ochoa (Corona 46’); Estrada (E. Hernández 33’), Rodríguez, Dueñas (Torres Nilo) Salcido; dos Santos, Márquez, Ríos (Magallón 46’), Barrera; Orozco (Esqueda 46’), J. Hernández.
Venezuela – D. Hernández; Romero, Vizcarrondo, Perozo, Cichero; González (Rosales 72’), Lucena, Arango, Seijas (Granados 27’), Chourio; Moreno (Rentería 68’).