Even though Mexico had several star players missing from the starting XI against Venezuela, manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino was able to get the best out of the selection, as they beat Venezuela 3-1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Wednesday night. It was the first time Martino has returned to Atlanta since hoisting the MLS Cup with Atlanta United Football Club in December.
Wednesday night also saw the reunion of Martino with Atlanta United star and Venezuela striker, Josef Martinez. Martinez did not start the match, but played the entire second half.
Mexico’s Roberto Alvarado scored from inside the eighteen yard box to equalize in the 32nd minute, and Rodolfo Pizarro scored the go-ahead goal in the 53rd minute as he tapped in Jesus Gallardo’s cross. Substitute and crowd favorite Andres Guardado gave El Tri a 3-1 advantage in the 76th minute.
51,384 fans witnessed the contest between Mexico and Venezuela.
Mexico was without its shining star from last year’s World Cup, Hirving Lozano, because of a knee injury. Carlos Vela, Javier Aquino and Jesus Corona allegedly declined call-ups. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez did not travel with El Tri due to the birth of his child and will not play in the upcoming Gold Cup. Finally, Miguel Layun did not play due to a medical issue.
“Javier is in England, he’s about to become a father and if he thinks he has to interact with people or to answer them, I’ve got nothing to say,” said Martino in a press conference.
This was Mexico’s third exhibition under Martino and its first since El Tri beat Chile and Paraguay in friendlies three months ago. Mexico faces Ecuador in a friendly Sunday in Arlington, Texas, for its final tune-up before the Gold Cup.
For Venezuela, they are finalizing their squad ahead of next week’s Copa America tournament in Brazil.