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SANTA CLARA, Calif.: Goals from substitutes Jhonder Cadiz and Eduardo Bello gave Venezuela a 2-1 victory over 10-man Ecuador in a Copa America Group B match on Saturday.

In the group’s other match, Mexico started their campaign victoriously with a 1-0 win over Jamaica in Houston, but lost captain Edson Alvarez to injury.

Ecuador was forced to play with 10 men from the 22nd minute of the match at Levi Stadium when striker Enner Valencia was sent off for dangerous play.

The 34-year-old forward hit Venezuelan defender Jose Martinez with his boot to the chest while fighting for a high, bouncing ball into the penalty area and was initially shown a yellow card, but after a VAR review, he was immediately shown a red card.

Ecuador, who had been controlling the match before the dismissal, reacted well and took the lead in the 40th minute when Venezuela failed to clear the ball into the penalty area and Jeremy Sarmiento deflected the ball and crossed it into the net.

Venezuelan head coach Fernando Batista made two changes at half-time, bringing on Cadiz and Bello and both had a decisive impact.

‘Vinotinto’ striker Salomon Rondon passed the ball to Cadiz, whose side-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area was slightly deflected past Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.

Then in the 74th minute, Alexander Gonzalez crossed from the right and headed Rondon’s shot, which was parried by Dominguez, but Bello reacted and punched the ball away.

“To be able to score a goal to help win and contribute to the first goal is a joy. These three points are very important for what’s coming,” said a delighted Bello.

Ecuador coach Felix Sanchez said Valencia’s red card forced him to change his team’s attitude.

We had to change the plan, wait a little behind the opponent. It’s clear that when you play with 10 people, you are at the mercy of your opponent for many minutes, even if you don’t want to play like that,” he said.

“Obviously it’s not a dream start, but there are still two games left and we have a team that can compete. The most important thing is that the team has regained its spirit for what is to come.”

Mexico fought against Jamaica for a long time before a phenomenal goal by Gerardo Arteaga in the 69th minute gave them three points.

Jaime Lozano’s side suffered a major blow when their captain, West Ham midfielder Alvarez, was forced off the pitch in the 29th minute after falling without contact.

“El Tri” tried hard to create opportunities in the first half, just before the break Luis Romo curled the ball just wide of the goal.

Jamaica thought they had taken the lead in the 50th minute, but after a VAR review, Michail Antonio’s header was ruled offside.

This break woke up the Mexicans, who pushed forward with a greater purpose. Luis Chavez forced a good save from Jamaica goalkeeper Jahmali Waite and Julian Quinones shot over the crossbar from a cross from the left.

Waite was again alert to keep out Santiago Gimenez just after the shot as the pressure built, and finally Mexico made the breakthrough when the ball fell to Arteaga on the edge of the box and he sent a perfectly executed half-volley into the far corner.

Jamaica had one last chance to salvage a point, but Dexter Lembikisa’s low shot went wide of Mexican goalkeeper Julio Gonzalez’s post.

Arteaga said the disallowed goal gave Mexico the impetus to go on and win the match.

“A goal, for or against, changes your mood a lot. And the fact that the goal was denied lifted our spirits and we could continue to insist and look for the goal ourselves,” the left-back told TUDN.

Mexico will face Venezuela on Wednesday in Los Angeles, while Jamaica will face Ecuador on the same day in Las Vegas.

“We know it won’t be an easy opponent. Thank God we won against Jamaica and now we want to get another victory,” Arteaga said.

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