Copa America Centenario: CONCACAF Diary (June 17, 2016)
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Costa Rica's Johan Venegas (red jersey) was one of CONCACAF's outstanding performers as the Copa America Centenario group stage concluded. (Photo: Mexsport) 

 

HOUSTON -- Quarterfinal action has already kicked off with the United States’ 2-1 win over Ecuador on Thursday night, but we take one final look back at the third group-stage matches for CONCACAF teams in the Copa America Centenario.

TOP MATCHES

Colombia 2, Costa Rica 3: Having been knocked out of the tournament less than a half-hour before kickoff, the Ticos responded with a scintillating performance against the FIFA World Rankings’ No. 3 side. Johan Venegas scored a brilliant opening goal and contributed to a second, and Celso Borges’ 58th-minute half-volley proved enough to be the winner.

 

Mexico 1, Venezuela 1: Before a packed house at NRG Stadium in Houston, Mexico secured the top spot in Group C against a tricky Venezuelan outfit. The match included two of the tournament’s best goals. Jose Manuel Velazquez’s side-volley gave the South Americans a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute, while before Jesus Corona leveled with 10 remaining in normal time on a weaving and commanding solo run.


TOP GOALS
Johan Venegas, Costa Rica (v Colombia):
The Impact de Montreal midfielder scored the Ticos' first goal of the tournament in the second minute. After chesting down Celso Borges’ long diagonal ball, he cut back and looped a 22-yard effort beyond Robinson Zapata’s dive and inside the right post.

Celso Borges, Costa Rica (v Colombia): The Ticos completed their scoring in a stylish victory with Borges’ 58th-minute strike. Christian Bolaños picked out Bryan Oviedo on the right and Oviedo sent in a first-touch cross, before Borges hammered home a decisive half-volley.

Jesus Corona, Mexico (v Venezuela): After injury forced Corona into early action as a first-half sub, he scored Mexico’s equalizer in the 80th minute. The 23-year-old took a pass on the left, wove his way through five defenders and powered in a finish from 10-yards.

 

 

TOP SAVES
Andre Blake, Jamaica (v Uruguay):
While Jamaica failed to earn a point in its most recent Copa America appearance, Blake continued to impress for the Reggae Boyz, when he dove low to his left to deny Abel Hernandez’s breakaway effort in the 7th minute.

Brad Guzan, United States (v Paraguay): Guzan finished with six saves to help preserve a 1-0 victory for the U.S. His best came in quick succession in the 82nd minute, when he thwarted Miguel Almiron and then Dario Lezcano at the left post with his legs.

 

Jaime Penedo, Panama (v Chile): In the 22nd minute, Alexis Sanchez delivered an inviting cross into the box from the left that Arturo Vidal nodded towards the left post. Despite the ball already being behind him, Penedo somehow contorted his diving body to tip it away for a corner kick. The save left Vidal scratching his head in disbelief.

 

TURNING POINTS
John Brooks, USA (v Paraguay):
Needing at least a point in their final Group A game, the Americans could’ve fallen behind on Paraguay’s 3-on-1 break in the 11th minute. Instead, Brooks intervened with a last-second sliding challenge to deny Miguel Almiron.


Jesus Corona, Mexico (v Venezuela): When Javier Aquino exited in the 18th minute with a leg injury, Corona injected life into Mexico’s attack. He would eventually score the Tricolor’s 80th-minute equalizer on a sizzling solo run, and finished the match leading the team with six shots.


TOP TEAM PERFORMANCE
Costa Rica (v Colombia):
The Ticos made the best of being eliminated from the competition early in a 3-2 victory. And, after Borges’ goal made it 3-1, they held on despite Colombia inserting stars James Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado in the second half.

 


TOP INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE
Johan Venegas, Costa Rica (v Colombia): Starting his first match of the tournament in place of Joel Campbell, Venegas scored early, created a second goal with his dribbling work and cross, and nearly had a second for himself in the second half.

 

ONE LAST THING

Although only two CONCACAF teams advanced to the knockout phase, both the United States and Mexico did so by winning their groups. Costa Rica and Panama both also picked up victories in the tournament, finishing ahead of Paraguay and Bolivia in their respective groups.