Mexico 3-1 Uruguay
5 June 2016
Copa America Centenario
Glendale, Arizona, USA
Scorers: Pereira OG, Marquez , Herrera (Mexico), Godin (Uruguay)

Mexico defeated Uruguay in their opening Copa America Centenario match to take the UFWC title and become Unofficial Football World Champions. In a tight match that saw both sides reduced to ten men, two late goals gave Mexico the win – only their second in UFWC history.

Uruguay should have realised it was not going to be their day when the organisers played the wrong national anthem ahead of the game. The Uruguayan players looked understandably bemused as the Chilean anthem played around Glendale’s University of Phoenix stadium. There followed a much more respectful moment of silence for the Greatest of All Time boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who passed away on Friday.

Mexico took the lead after just four minutes when Andres Guardado’s excellent cross was headed into his own net by left back Alvaro Pereira under pressure from Hector Herrera.

Edinson Cavani spurned a chance to equalise, driving a shot straight at a spread-eagled Alfredo Talavera in the Mexico goal. Then, right on the stroke of half-time, Uruguay midfielder Matias Vecino received a second yellow card and was sent off.

Mexico also went down to ten men, in the 73rd minute, when Guardado received his second yellow. And from the resulting free kick, Uruguay captain Diego Godin headed an equaliser. It looked like Uruguay could retain the UFWC title, but that wasn’t to be.

Mexico scored twice in the last few minutes to win the game, first through 37-year-old captain Rafael Marquez, who smashed a shot into the net at the near post, then, in stoppage time, Herrera headed home from close range to make the final score 3-1 to the new UFWC champions.

This was only Mexico’s second UFWC title match victory in 15 attempts, and their first win since 1962. They now move up from the foot of the all-time rankings table into 38th position, alongside Ecuador, Georgia, Portugal and current Copa hosts the United States.

The next title match is on Thursday, 9 June, when Mexico play Jamaica. Jamaica have played in two previous UFWC title matches, but have never won the title. They lost their opening Copa America game 1-0 to Venezuela. The match will be played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Kick-off is a late 22:00 local time (an early 03:00 in the UK).

This match was played at 20:00 on 5 June local time, which was 01:00 on 6 June in the UK.

About Paul Brown

Paul is a freelance journalist and author. He created the UFWC in 2003, and subsequently wrote the Unofficial Football World Champions book. He can be found on Twitter @paulbrownUK.