Venezuela outlasts 10-man Jamaica

Action from the Copa America Centenario match between Jamaica (yellow jersey) and Venezuela in Chicago on June 5, 2016. (Photo: Mexsport)

CHICAGO – Josef Martinez scored in the first half and Venezuela held off 10-man Jamaica in the Copa America Centenario Group C opener for each on Sunday at Soldier Field.

The win was the South Americans’ sixth in the 59 all-time games in the competition, while Jamaica remains winless, losing each of its four games by the same 1-0 score.

The Reggae Boyz competed for more than hour with only 10 players, after midfielder Rodolph Austin was shown a straight red card in the 23rd minute for a foul against Tomas Rincon. Losing the MVP of the 2014 Caribbean Cup was a severe blow to Jamaica, but it still created scoring opportunities, hitting the woodwork before and after the ejection.

Je-Vaughn Watson’s header crashed off the crossbar in the 11th minute and Michael Hector struck the right post four minutes after the break.

Venezuela netted the only goal in the 15th minute following up superb sequence of quick passes. Alejandro Guerra ultimately released Martinez into the left side of the box and the Torino snapped a shot from eight yards that went underneath goalkeeper Andre Blake.

The lead was nearly doubled in the 70th minute, but Blake dove to save a Wuilker Angel header off Guerra’s corner kick.

Jamaica had several late chances, with Watson firing high in the 75th minute and Adrian Mariappa’s 83rd-minute header forcing a save from Venezuela goalkeeper Dani Hernandez.

Wes Morgan, the captain of English Premier League champion Leicester City, didn’t start the game. He entered in the 40th minute for injured left-back Kemar Lawrence.

Both sides return to action on Thursday. Jamaica will meet Mexico in a 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup final rematch in Pasadena, California, and Venezuela will take on Uruguay in Philadelphia.