Eduardo Aguirre score a hat-trick as Mexico beat Turkey 3-1 to clinch a place in the Toulon Tournament Final. Mexico were the better team but faced a tough challenge from a very physical Turkish side. Mexico will now play the Toulon Final as they seek only their second title ever. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of question about the physical state of the team after Cesar Montes, Jonathan Gonzalez and Diego Lainez all left the game with knocks.
Mexico started the game as slight favorites but knowing it would be a tough match. Unfortunately for them, like the China game, they started slow and Turkey pressed them from the start. A shot by a Turkish player forced goalkeeper Jose Hernandez to make an outstanding save.
To Mexico’s benefit, they started playing better after they settled. Then a great combination play occurred when Uriel Antuna made a great jump to head a ball and left it for Roberto Alvarado, who quickly made the pass to Diego Lainez. Lainez then made a great pass through the middle to Eduardo Aguirre. Aguirre went through alone and lobbed it over the keeper to open the scoring.
Mexico dominated the final minutes of the half, but suffered a negative event when Cesar Montes, Mexico’s best defender, had to come out because of an injury. The Turkish team was very physical and took advantage of a terrible job by Romanian referee Radu Petrescu.
The second half started with more bad news from Mexico as Jonathan Gonzalez had to also exit the match because of injury. However, Mexico kept dominating the proceedings, while the Turkish defenders kept fouling the Mexican players constantly. Just when Turkey started playing more offensively, Mexico took the 2-0 lead. Lainez made a great pass to Uriel Antuna, who made an even greater pass to Aguirre to finish a counter for the 2-0.
A couple of minutes later, Alvarado was dropped outside the area for a free kick which he took and forced the Turkish Goalkeeper to make a diving stop. Mexico kept being the better team but again had some more bad news when Diego Lainez had to come out with an injury.
It looked like Turkey turned things around when Lainez got subbed off but Mexico was dangerous on the counter and would get a penalty call. A Mexican cross was ruled to have been handled by the Turkish defender, although it didn’t look like it was intentional. Aguirre took the penalty and scored his hat-trick.
A couple of minutes later, the referee continued with his terrible job and gave Turkey a penalty when the Turkish player was taken down outside the area. Kubilay Kanatsizkus converted it for the 3-1 which ended up being the final score.
Mexico made a huge step in beating Turkey and getting to another final. Although they once again took a lot of time to settle, they were the better team when they did and were able to outlast a very physical Turkish side. That said, the attention and worries of the team will lie on the injury front. Diego Lainez’s injury seems to be the one of the least concern, but he is Mexico’s best player and is key to the team. On the other hand, Cesar Montes is Mexico’s best defender and it looks like his injury was the toughest one. Jonathan Gonzalez would also be a big miss if he isn’t able to get healthy for the final. Mexico might be favored to get the title but they will need to know what kind of squad they have at their disposal. Still, their tournament has been a huge success so far and they now have a golden opportunity to triumph at the final.