Ecuador and Japan tied 1-1 on Monday, June 24 at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte in the third match of Group C of CONMEBOL Copa América Brasil 2019.
Both national teams were eliminated because they needed a victory to advance as one of the best third-placed teams in the tournament. That position left, was taken by Paraguay.
In the first minutes of the first half of the match, Ecuador wanted to impose their overhead play, disturbing the goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima. Japan took advantage of it trying high-speed counter-attacks and a single attack. Both teams were able to reach the opposition area, but failed to score.
A good combination at the minute 14, in which Ecuador’s defense neglected the goal, Shoya Nakijama shot the ball getting a goal. However, the line judge announced out of place by annulling the Japanese goal and the VAR intervention appeared, which validated the goal. It was 1-0 for the Asians.
Japan await, and Ecuador approached, making the goalkeeper Kawashima and the Japanese defense get wrong, not once but twice. Neither Valencia, nor Mena, nor Ibarra were able to take advantage of that opportunity.
If they took advantage of a return that Kawashima left in the small area and Angel Mena scored 1-1 for Ecuador. The match was drawn, but the result still did not work for either team as both were being eliminated.
In the second half, Hernan Dario Gomez’s team was more aggressive, dominating the game and looking for the area rival, but was not effective scoring the goal.
Both teams tried. After a free kick that was headed by Naomichi Ueda and well blocked by Dominguez.
A minute later Ayase Ueda could not define the front of the goal, well defended by Arboleda and Mina. Two minutes later, Enner Valencia, getting up in speed to put a difficult shot to Kawashima who controlled in two times.
Ecuador searched for more in the final minutes, but it wasn’t enough. A match that ended more fought and interrupted and that in the end, with suspense at the end, but with the 1-1 that left both teams eliminated from the oldest national team tournament in the world.
· Ecuador and Japan played their fourth game in history; so far, with two wins for the Japanese, two for the Ecuadorians and today’s draw; all previous duels had been on Japanese territory.
· Ecuador did not win any of their last five matches against Asian countries (2E 3D); their last win was 1-0 over Iran in 2008.
· Ecuador classified the quarter-finals in just three of the last 11 editions of the CONMEBOL Copa América (since this format was played in 1993); it advanced in 1993, 1997 and 2016.
· Japan drew against Ecuador and along with Jamaica (6D) are the first non-CONMEBOL teams not to win any of their first six Copa América matches (3E 3D).
· Ecuador won just two of its 19 matches in the CONMEBOL Copa América since 2004 (4E 13D); both victories were against non-CONMEBOL teams: 2-1 against Mexico in 2015 and 4-0 against Haiti in 2016.
· Japan’s Shoya Nakajima scored the ninth outside goal in the CONMEBOL Copa América 2019 in just 18 games played – the highest average between the last four editions of the competition (one every two games).
· Ángel Mena scored his third goal for Ecuador in 17 games played; the León player scored the only goal he scored in the match.