| Mexican goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez makes a save against Argentina during the group B Copa America match at Elias Aguirre Stadium in Chiclayo on Saturday. (AFP)
Chiclayo: Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa was back under pressure again after his team crashed to a 0-1 defeat against Mexico in the Copa America on Saturday.
Uruguay, inspired by an excellent performance from Diego Forlan, beat Ecuador 2-1 for their first win under coach Jorge Fossati while Peru captain Claudio Pizarro was ruled out of the rest of the meet with a head injury.
Bielsa has become increasingly unpopular with Argentina fans recently and there is speculation he might not survive a poor Copa America.
He enjoyed a brief respite after his team began with a 6-1 demolition of Ecuador but warned at the time that it would only last until the next game.
Mexico, coached by former Argentina goalkeeper Ricardo Lavolpe, went ahead when Ramon Morales curled a 25-metre free kick past Rodolfo Abbondanzieri in the ninth minute and then let their opponents chase the game. Argentina dominated the rest of the match but could not turn their superiority into goals.
“We didn’t win because we failed to score any of our chances and the opponents had two chances, of which they converted one,” Bielsa told reporters with exactly the same blank expression he wore after the win over Ecuador.
“Argentina did enough to win the game but we didn’t overcame an obstacle, having done enough to have overcome it, and that is normal in football,” he added, staring blankly at the ground.
Lavolpe also came into the Copa under pressure and has announced that his current job will be his last coaching a professional team. But he appeared to have no regrets about beating his homeland. “I was born in Argentina but I’ve been in Mexico for 25 years,” he said. “Mexico has given me a lot.”
Argentina’s relentless attack frequently threatened to score. In the 16th minute, Luis Gonzalez’s shot flew over the crossbar, and a minute later a Javier Zanetti attempt rolled across the goal area untouched.
But Mexico replied with effective counterattacks midway through the half, and stifled Argentina’s offensive barrage with a sagging defence.
Mexico defender Rafael Marquez constantly shadowed Argentina’s Javier Saviola, who scored three goals in the team’s opener and is the tournament’s leading scorer. Both players are teammates at Spain’s FC Barcelona.
Roberto Ayala nearly tied it in the 58th but his powerful header was turned aside in a reflex save by goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez. Ayala’s shot followed another by Cesar Delgado moments beforehand that went into the side netting after Sanchez came off his line.
Uruguay coach Fossati, however, had mixed feelings after the win over Ecuador — the country where he spent the last year coaching Liga de Quito before being appointed in April.
Several of his former Liga players were on the opposing side.
“On the one hand, it’s given me enormous happiness to win at last. On the other, we were playing against a country to which I’m very grateful and for which I have a lot of affection,” he said.
Striker Carlos Bueno scrambled the winner in the 78th minute, his second goal in successive games.
Forlan had put Uruguay ahead in the 61st minute with his ninth goal in 18 internationals but substitute Franklin Salas equalised in the 73rd.
He later limped off complaining of a pain in his leg. Uruguay and Mexico have four points each, Argentina three and Ecuador none. Pizarro, who was sent off in Peru’s 3-1 win over Venezuela, was taken to hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning complaining of dizziness and nausea, the team doctor said.
The Bayern Munich striker was diagnosed as having a head injury, told to rest for one month and ruled out of the rest of the Copa.