Mexico came back from their worst start of the tournament to defeat China with a 3-1 win. Mexico came out real slow, probably because of fatigue, and allowed a Chinese team to pressure and get the opening lead. As time went by, the overly superior talent of the Mexican team was able to break through and Mexico dominated the rest of the game to get a 3-1 win. Mexico finished with 7 points and will now move on to the Semifinals after topping the group over England through goal difference.
Mexico came in as the heavy favorite against a Chinese team looked almost already eliminated from the competition. Still many people were surprised that Mexico went out with almost the same lineup that had played the first two games in such a short time span. Coach Marco Antonio Ruiz didn’t think so, but the early play showed that it certainly had an effect. Even though Mexico had a clear chance that Diego Lainez missed, China started dominating with their pressure and speed, while still looking like an average side. It paid off when Alan Cervantes made a big mistake and gave the ball to the Chinese team, leading to Deng Yubiao scoring. Mexico went from a side looking to score the most amount of goals to one staring at elimination in the face.
To Mexico’s credit, they didn’t panic and eventually looked to start imposing their better level of play. Uriel Antuna made a great run and passed it to Eduardo Aguirre, who had an incredible miss just over the bar. Then a couple of minutes later, Roberto Alvarado hit the post on a long range shot before Diego Lainez made the Chinese keeper make a great play off a free kick.
Finally, another great play by Antuna found Roberto Alvarado in the area. He clashed with the Chinese defender, who tried to appear as he was fouled, and then got a strong left footed shot that tied the game.
Mexico continued to dominate and got another free kick. Diego Lainez made a great cross, and Eduardo Aguirre was wide open to head in the 2-1. Mexico finished the half dominating completely.
The second half had a similar start to the end of the first. Antuna made a great run and got a shot off that the Chinese keeper had to make a great save. Then another great cross from Diego Lainez on a free kick fell to Cesar Montes, who got tripped in the area. The ref gave a penalty and Eduardo Aguirre converted for his second goal of the game and fourth of the tournament.
The rest of the game continued with Mexico’s dominance, but the Chinese team started to get more physical and the play started getting very chippy. It all lead to an on the field brawl, and Coach Ruiz started taking out players like Antuna and Lainez. Although China had some chances for a second goal, the game eventually ended 3-1.
This win was key for Mexico. Only the group winners and the best second-placed team go through to the next round, and the 7 points and +5 goal difference was enough to get el Tri above England for first place in the group.
All this considered, Mexico played a great group stage, although this game leads to some worries. The main one being Mexico’s fitness, especially when Coach Chima Ruiz has given so many minutes to their starting rotation. That said, Mexico’s team is one of the most talented and have been able to show it on the field. They will also get a much needed rest, as they will not play until Wednesday, while also getting more time than their potential rival. Mexico has so far met expectations in their 2018 Toulon tournament participation.