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Postgame Observations: Erick Gutierrez shines, Peralta and Pizarro injury blows

Fiji v Mexico: Men's Football - Olympics: Day 2 Photo by Felipe Oliveira/Getty Images

In a game of contrasting halves, Mexico celebrated their first win of the 2016 Rio Olympics with a 5-1 thrashing of Fiji on Sunday.

Roy Krishna wrote himself into the Fiji history books as he fired his side into a surprise lead after only ten minutes. It was a goal to remember for Fiji, who are participating in their first men’s Olympic soccer tournament in their history.

But Fiji’s joy only lasted a few minutes into the second half, and in a space of ten minutes, Erick Gutierrez turned the game upside down, scoring a hat-trick for Mexico.

Things swiftly from bad to worse for Fiji, and El Tri scored a fourth through Chivas defender Carlos Salcedo.

Erick Gutierrez then put a seal on Mexico’s first three points of the tournament with a superb chip to score his fourth and final goal of the game.

Here are my three takeaways from the match:

Nightmare first half from Mexico

If Mexico’s performance against Germany said so much about the real potential of this team, this game did the opposite. El Tri seemed to have started the game carelessly, with Fiji doing all the pressing and Mexico mishitting all their passes. From there, Fiji showed focus and belief coursed through every single one of their players.

The worry for Mexico before the game was the Fiji would set up shop and park the bus, denying Mexico of space and one of their key strengths on the attack. Instead, Fiji offered up a threat through their relentless pressing. Fiji coach Frank Farina clearly got his preparation right, and Fiji’s attackers did a good job stemming Mexico’s playing from the back.

Alfredo Talavera then made what might be the biggest error of Mexico’s tournament thus-far. Talavera calculated his run wrongly, an an unchallenged Roy Krishna was there to head in Fiji’s go-ahead goal.

Things only got worse for Mexico when Rodolfo Pizarro went down through injury. It was all a far-cry from what was witnessed on Friday against Germany.

“Guti” to the rescue

Given that Rodolfo Pizarro was substituted out through injury and Hirving “Chucky” Lozano made way for Arturo Gonzalez in the second half, the fate of this game basically came down to Erick Gutierrez. The oddity, though, is that coach Raul “Potro” Gutierrez decided to play “Guti” on the wing. In theory, Guti’s less pacy game might disrupt Mexico’s attack, but instead it proved to be a positive for El Tri as the young Mexican midfielder scored four goals. Up until then, Mexico had been trying their usual trick of transporting the ball out wide, but it meant nothing was really happening until Guti gave them an extra avenue on the left.

It’s funny how things turn out. Hirving Lozano, the player billed by everybody to be the star on the left flank, has so far been outscored by a player with very little experience playing out wide.

Win comes at a cost

The most disappointing thing when you look back at this game will be the injuries. El Tri fans are set to be in shock after losing both Oribe Peralta and Rodolfo Pizarro through injury. Pizarro had to exit the game in the 35th minute, and he is set to be out for a few months with a broken fibula. Meanwhile, Oribe Peralta suffered a fractured nose and will be travelling to Mexico to receive surgery. The defending champions must now face South Korea without two of their most important players in a game where only a win would put Raul “Potro” Gutierrez’s side on a certain course to the quarterfinals.