MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) _ Uruguay, looking to regain some lost soccer prestige, qualified for the second round of the America Cup on Sunday, while Mexico gave itself a lifeline by beating struggling Venezuela.
Uruguay sat back on its lead after Enzo Francescoli scored in the 13th minute and defeated Paraguay 1-0.
``We’re happy with the result but I must admit that we still haven’t found the right balance,″ Uruguayan coach Hector Nunez said. ``It was an emotional game but not a great one.″
Uruguay, traditionally one of Latin America’s strongest soccer nations, has won two World Cups and 13 America Cup titles. However, it has slumped in recent years and failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.
Uruguay beat Venezuela 4-1 in its opening game. Paraguay downed Mexico 2-1 in its opener and still hopes to qualify for the second round of the 12-nation South American championship.
``My team couldn’t play like it did against Mexico for the simple reason that our rivals didn’t allow us to play as we had planned,″ said Ladisloao Kubala, Paraguay’s Hungarian coach.
In the day’s other game in Maldonado, Mexico bounced back to beat Venezuela 3-1 on two penalty kicks from Luis Garcia, who became the tournament’s top scorer with three goals.
Mexico made four changes from the lineup that lost to Paraguay on Thursday. Venezuela, with no points from two games, stands virtually no chance of advancing past the first round.
Mexico and the United States are the only countries from outside South America in the field. The United States, which beat Chile 2-1 in its opener, plays Bolivia on Tuesday night.
In a dull game before just 1,000 fans, Mexico did not resemble the team that made it to the finals of the 1993 America Cup, losing the title game to Argentina.
``We picked up our game today,″ Mexico coach Miguel Mejia Baron said. ``We scored three goals and could have had more and we looked good in possession. But we can do much better than this.″
Missael Espinosa had the other goal for Mexico in the 76th minute. Venezuela’s lone goal came early in the second half when Mexican goalkeeper Jorge Campos punched a cross into his own net.
``It’s always great to score but I don’t like to think in terms of individuals,″ Garcia said. ``We’re here to win the cup and the most important thing is for the team to work as a unit.″
Venezuela played the last 20 minutes with nine men after Edson Tortolero and Leonardo Gonzalez were ejected for rough play.
``Mexico deserved the victory,″ Venezuela coach Rafael Santana said. ``And I feel Mexico as a team is going from strength to strength.″