GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Mexico was eliminated from the Copa America after a 0-0 draw against Ecuador, which advanced to the quarterfinals Sunday night after avoiding a penalty in stoppage time thanks to a VAR review.

Mexico was initially awarded a penalty kick by referee Mario Alberto Escobar Toca when Ecuador’s Félix Torres took down Mexican forward Guillermo Martínez in the penalty box. VAR rescinded the penalty because Torres touched the ball and Mexico was awarded a corner kick, sending in a chorus of boos raining down from the Mexican fans at State Farm Stadium.

“I don’t like to talk about our referee. It is what it is and I believe we have more possibilities now that we have VAR,” Mexico coach Jaime Lozano said. “After an early exit, I don’t want to talk about the referee.”

Ecuador weathered a second-half push by Mexico in front of 62,656 mostly pro-Mexico fans to finish second in Group B behind Venezuela. Ecuador and Mexico finished level on four points from three games but Ecuador advanced thanks to a better goal differential and will face Group A winner Argentina in the quarterfinals Thursday in Houston.

“Playing against Argentina in our experience is a very tough team because they have the world’s best players, they play in the best leagues at a high level,” Ecuador coach Félix Sánchez said through an interpreter. “They are very versatile, have been playing together for a long time with the same coach and they still have a lot of ambition.”

Mexico failed to get out of the group stage for the fourth time in its last five Copa America appearances, which could put Lozano’s job in jeopardy.

El Tri was eliminated in the first round of the World Cup for the first time since 1978 in Qatar two years ago and lost to the United States in CONCACAF Nations League final in March.

Mexico had one goal on 57 shots in three Copa America games.

“There were many players who had never played in a tournament like this, which is directly below the World Cup,” Lozano said. “Other players (who played) in the Cup didn’t have the results of other games. But I believe the team has grown in many aspects. The decision is not up to me.”

Mexico needed a win to advance after losing 1-0 to Venezuela on a penalty kick in the 57th minute and beating Jamaica 1-0 in the tournament opener.

Ecuador, ahead 4-1 in goal differential, only needed a draw to reach the quarterfinals following a 3-1 win over Jamaica and a 2-1 loss to group leader Venezuela.

Mexico had a slight advantage in possession the first half (54%) and took seven shots, but continued its struggles with efficiency.

El Tri didn’t have a shot on goal and its best scoring chance came in the final minutes of the half, when Santiago Giménez sent a header over the crossbar.

Ecuador had the best chance of the half in the 19th minute, when Kendry Paez’s shot to the near post on free kick forced Julio González to make a save.

“We’ve discussed when there was a pass backward, we should try to move ahead but they were trying to press with two or three players,” Sánchez said. We created two or three counter attacks, but in fútbol today you have to be good in every phase.”

Mexico began ramping up the pressure early in the second half, creating more scoring opportunities.

El Tri and its fans were irate when Toca didn’t call a foul after Torres took down Gerardo Arteaga in the penalty box, but the non-call was upheld on VAR. Giménez sent another header over the crossbar on the ensuing corner kick.

Julián Quiñones had Mexico’s best chance a few minutes later, rifling a shot from just inside the box that Alexander Domínguez sprawled out to knock away. Giménez’s shot on the rebound hit the outside of the goal.

Mexico continued to pressure Ecuador and thought it had a potential tournament-saving penalty shot, only to have it taken away.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/soccer