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McCleary’s Jamaica exit Copa America after Mexico defeat

10 June 2016

Reggae Boyz defeated by El Tri in Pasadena

Following a defeat to two-time runners-up Mexico in the early hours of Friday morning, the Copa America Centenario adventure for Jamaica and Garath McCleary will end at the group stage.

Despite dominating great swathes of the game against the favourites and ratcheting up the pressure throughout the match, Jamaica conceded either side of the break without reply… a 2-0 win for Mexico was enough to confirm their place in the next round, whilst simultaneously meaning an early end to the tournament for the Reggae Boyz.

Jamaica had fallen to an early Josef Martinez goal in their opening game against Venezuela; the 1-0 defeat in Chicago meant a result against Latin American superpowers Mexico was a must if they were to have a chance to progress beyond their group.

On paper, that was always going to be a big ask.  Mexico went into the match on a run of 20 games without defeat and having won all of their last 10 outings.  But McCleary and his international teammates gave it their all and could count themselves unlucky to leave empty-handed.

In front of a partisan crowd of 83,263 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena – just 150 miles from the Mexican border – it was former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Javier Hernandez that opened the scoring.  In a rematch of last year’s Gold Cup final, Chicharito sprung above Premier League-winning captain Wes Morgan to head El Tri into an 18th-minute lead.

McCleary came close to equalising with a left-footed effort, only to see it blocked inside the six-yard box, and then he teed up former Royals teammate Michael Hector whose close-range effort was kept out by a sprawling save from Mexico stopper Guillermo Ochoa, who was in inspired form throughout.

And after withstanding plenty of pressure from the Reggae Boyz, it was Mexico who struck the game’s second goal through Oribe Peralta in the final 10 minutes, as the sub finished a spritely attack in tidy fashion.

Fellow Group C national Uruguay – who have won the South American Championship and Copa America on 15 occasions – were also eliminated after being defeated in their second fixture against Venezuela.  Jamaica and Uruguay will face each other in their final group game in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

Our commiserations go to G and the Reggae Boyz, and our best wishes for their final group fixture against Uruguay.

You can also catch up with the #GmacCopaDiary which the Royals winger has been penning for 5mag during his time in the USA – click here to head to the 5mag website where his tour blog is hosted.

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