GLENDALE, Arizona -- If the Copa America Centenario needed a game to truly set pulses racing, Mexico's 3-1 victory over Uruguay in Group C on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium provided it.
Goals from Rafa Marquez and Hector Herrera in the last five minutes stole the points for Mexico in front of 60,025 fans, with both teams ending the game with 10 players.
An own goal from Alvaro Pereira handed Mexico the lead in the fifth minute, with Diego Godin equalizing for Uruguay in the 74th to set up a tense finish. The hard-fought victory for Mexico moves it top of Group C and extends coach Juan Carlos Osorio's winning start as El Tri coach to eight victories.
Even before a ball was kicked there was controversy, with the Chilean national anthem playing instead of the Uruguay one and players and fans looking on bemused and angry. Organizers released an apology at half-time.
Mexico's victory was the first win for a CONCACAF side in this edition of the Copa America, and Mexico's opening goal the first a CONCACAF nation has scored.
El Tri's opener was started by Marquez, who launched a long pass out to Andres Guardado on the left wing. The PSV player controlled and whipped in a cross that Pereira deflected into his own net, under heavy pressure from Herrera.
It was a perfect start from Mexico and the team grew from there, dominating the first half and almost toying with a Luis Suarez-less Uruguay at times.
El Tri recycled the ball well and at pace, hurting an unusually nervous-looking Uruguay side down the wings.
Uruguay's only chance of the first half came when Edinson Cavani was put through on goal on the hour hour mark by a pass from Nicolas Lodeiro, but Mexico keeper Alfredo Talavera was out quickly and smothered the PSG forward's shot.
Javier Aquino and Jesus "Tecatito" Corona excelled down the flanks, with the latter drawing a late and high challenge from Matias Vecino on the stroke of halftime, which resulted in the Fiorentina midfielder receiving his second yellow card. Vecino had already been booked in the 27th for a late foul on Guardado.
After the break, Uruguay showed its quality and started to wrest the game back, going close from two set pieces, before Diego Rolan spawned an easy chance after he was put through on goal by Cavani in the 59th.
Mexico retracted and lost the spark of the first half, while Uruguay sensed an opportunity. It was no surprise when captain Godin rose to head in a Carlos Sanchez cross.
To make matters worse for Mexico, Guardado was sent off for the foul that led to the free kick, leveling up each team on 10 players each.
With the game 1-1 and in the balance, Atlas and Mexico captain Marquez latched onto a loose ball in front of the Uruguay goal and fired a shot into the roof of the net to send the Mexico-majority crowd wild.
As Uruguay pushed forward, Herrera headed in from close range from a Raul Jimenez cross to seal a vital victory.
Mexico tops Group C on goal difference from Venezuela, following its 1-0 victory over Jamaica earlier Sunday.
Uruguay will face Venezuela on Thursday in Philadelphia with its participation in the tournament on the line, while El Tri moves on to Pasadena, where it will play Jamaica.