Dominant for large swathes of the game against Venezuela in San Diego, Mexico failed to make their dominance count in the final scoreline as a limited Venezuela netted from a corner to snatch a draw.
After the euphoric press coverage following the 3-1 victory over Paraguay on Saturday, this was a firm crash back down to earth. Boos could be heard at the final whistle although it wasn’t quite that bad.
Pablo Barrera and Andres Guardado started on the wings and Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre opted for Giovani Dos Santos instead of Sinha in the role behind Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez. Guillaermo Ochoa started in net under pressure for his place in the squad.
After a cagey first five minutes the game took shape with Mexico enjoying most the possession but Venezuela proving difficult to break down.
Mexico did have their chances though. Chicharito missed a chance he would usually tuck away although the assistant referees flag saved his blushes. Not long after, Chicharito lost his marker down the left and moved in on goal. From a tight angle the Manchester United player opted to try and bend the ball into the far corner. Instead, the ball ballooned over the bar. The better option was to pass the ball across goal for his unmarked team-mate.
Barrera was a live wire down the right but still needs to improve his decision making. Too many times he gets in excellent positions, through his own good work, only to spoil it by giving the ball away.
The teams went in at half-time at 0-0 but with Mexico the better team.
Chicharito, Guardado, Gerardo Torrado and Rafa Marquez all came off at halftime Coming on were Carlos Vela, Edgar Dueñas, Issrael Castro and Aldo de Nigris as Mexico stuck to the 4-4-1-1 that Chepo is famed for sticking to.
After the break the intensity of the game dropped but the physical de Nigris provided a different kind of threat. Just after coming on the Monterrey player was using his strength to get his head on the ball and almost socre. On 58 minutes, Dos Santos fed de Nigris with a looping cross. The big man managed to stay strong, evade the shirt tugging of the Venezuelan defender and to rise and nod the ball into the net. The Venezuelan goalkeeper was in no-man’s land but that shouldn’t take away from the fact de Nigris’ goal meant he and his brother became just the fourth siblings to net for Mexico. Aldo de Nigris’ brother died in 2009 making this goal all the more poignant for Aldo. He later dedicated the goal to his brother.
After the goal Mexico briefly threatened to score again but then became sloppy as substitutions became more frequent. Venezuela hit the bar from a direct free-kick and forced a fine save by Ochoa from a long distance shot. The warning sirens had already rung when in the 73rd minute Oswaldo Vizacarrondo was left free to nod in from a corner kick to level the scores. Poor defending. Ochoa will be left to take a large share of the blame after coming out for the ball and failing to get it, the number one rule for a goalkeeper.
Mexico were left to rue the mistake but should have put the game to bed well before the 73rd minute.
There were plenty of positives (Giovani, Barrera, de Nigris) but Chepo has no shortage of things to work on.
This was the last friendly game before the squad is named for the Copa de Oro.