MexSport

Márquez captains Mexico in loss to Ecuador

New York Red Bulls midfielder Rafael Márquez wore the captain's armband and played the full 90 minutes as Mexico lost to Ecuador 2-1 in an international exhibition played in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Saturday night.

Mexico were off to a shocking start in El Tri’s first-ever match at the newly christened Omnilife Stadium as Christian Benítez, who plays for Mexican club Santos Laguna, put Ecuador ahead with a goal after just 29 seconds on a penetrating run. The sparse crowd on hand was stunned before it could settle into the match.

The Mexicans responded minutes later on efforts by their two England-based forwards, Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and Carlos Vela, but both missed the mark.  

Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa kept Mexico in the match with two critical reflex saves in a one-minute span on Benítez and Walter Ayoví in the 33rd minute. His saves allowed his country to equalize the match four minutes from the break. Ecuadorean defender Luis Checa deflected a Chicharito cross into his own net to ensure the teams were square 1-1 at halftime.

In the 51st minute, Mexico could have gone ahead had it not been for a decisive save from Ecuador goalkeeper Máximo Banguera. He deflected a cross from Andrés Guardado which was destined for teammate Héctor Moreno, who was crashing the box.

Eight minutes later, Ecuador retook the lead as Ayoví poked a ball past Ochoa after he was served at the edge of the six-yard box by Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia.

New Fulham signing Carlos Salcido struck the crossbar on a long drive which was tipped by the Ecuador goalkeeper. And on his Mexican National Team debut, Cruz Azul’s Javier “El Chuletita” Orozco, who scored four goals against Real Salt Lake in a CONCACAF Champions League match, had two golden opportunities that went begging in the final minutes of the match.

Mexico will look to redeem themselves under interim manager Efraín Flores, when they face Colombia in Monterrey, Mexico, on Tuesday.