Football: Mexico ease the agony

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The Independent Online
MEXICO PUT their doping controversy behind them to beat Chile 2-1 with a late goal and clinch third place in the Copa America.

Miguel Zepeda headed the winner in the 86th minute, five minutes after Raul Palacios had put Chile back on level terms and seemingly set up yet another penalty shoot-out. Francisco Palencia gave Mexico a 26th-minute lead, although he appeared to control the ball with his hand before scoring.

Only around 2,000 fans braved cold, blustery conditions in supposedly subtropical Asuncion, Paraguay, on Saturday to watch a match which could have marked the international farewell of the Chilean striker Ivan Zamorano. The 32-year-old had hinted he could leave the side after the competition.

Mexico, who have taken part as guests since 1993, claimed third place for the second successive Copa America. They played only hours after the South American Football Confederation imposed six-month bans on Raul Lara and Paulo Cesar Chavez, who both failed dope tests earlier in the tournament. The Mexican squad have furiously backed their team mates, threatening to pull out of the Confederations Cup, which starts later this month in their country, if Lara and Chavez are not recognised as innocent.

"Mexico now wants to cease being a guest at the Copa America and to become a fixture," their coach, Miguel Lapuente, said. The low spirits in the Chilean camp mainly due to Zamorano's imminent departure, was evident on the field.

"What we lacked against Uruguay we lacked today: Spark, efficiency," Chile's coach, Nelson Acosta, said. "And you pay for that in these tournaments. We are left with the bitter taste of not reaching the final because of our own errors."

CHILE: Marcelo Ramirez; Palacios, Miguel Ramirez (Contreras, 37), Reyes, Acuna, Vargas (Valencia, 65), Sierra, Aros, Estay, Gonzalez (Nunez, 65) Zamorano.

MEXICO: Campos; Suarez, Marquez, Torrado, Ramirez, Zepeda, Garcia (Aspe, 64), Blanco (Pardo, 85), Palencia (Terrazas, 69), Carmona Hernandez.

Referee: H Elizondo (Arg).