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Copa America: Tecatito salvages 1-1 tie for El Tri against Venezuela

Two spectacular goals book-ended a thrilling Group C finale.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As he is wont to do, Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio shuffled his lineup for his team's Copa America Centenario Group C finale. The match against Venezuela had significance: it would decide the group winner. Undeterred, Osorio made his usual, inexplicable adjustments.

Jesus Corona got the start in goal, meaning all three of Mexico's 'keepers at this tournament have had a chance to play before the team has got out of the group stage. Rafa Marquez, Nestor Araujo, Miguel Layun, Chicharito, Tecatito Corona - starters in the preceding games - were benched. Only the squad's two Hectors - Moreno and Herrera - started all three group stage games in this tournament for Osorio.

Relentless squad rotation is the hallmark of JCO's management style, and it has brought him sufficient success to recommend him to the job of coaching El Tri. Still, it invites a lot of second-guessing, and the manager's charmed start to life in charge of Mexico's national team (nine games, nine wins - prior to this match) appeared under threat when Venezuela opened the scoring in the 10th minute.

It seems a little uncharitable to Jose Velazquez to suggest he benefited from Osorio's lineup shake-up - it was, quite simply, a brilliantly taken opportunity.

Despite considerable pressure from El Tri, and the addition of Chicharito and Layun to the game, it seemed Venezuela was might grind out its third consecutive 1-0 win of the tournament. Until, in the 80th minute, Tecatito (who had entered the game in the first half in relief of Javier Aquino) scored a goal every bit as spectacular as Velazquez's opener for La Vinotinto.

Two very good goals would seem a fair basis for 1-1 draw.

As is invariably the case with Osorio, Mexico's first stumble of his reign as head coach will be blamed on his incessant tactical tinkering. But El Tri is still unbeaten under JCO, and heads into the quarterfinals as Group C's winner. A match-up with (probably) either Chile or Panama in Santa Clara awaits.

For Venezuela, the prize for finishing second in Group C is most likely a quarterfinal with Argentina. La Vinotinto's defense has been impressive so far in this tournament, but can expect its toughest test to date in Foxborough on June 18 - assuming tomorrow's Group D matches go as expected.