Mexico and Argentina literally fought to a 2-2 tie in a U-22 friendly game played in Ciudad Juarez. The game was a rough affair which had controversial calls, a red card, and a fight in between bad calls by the refereeing crew. Argentina might have reason to complain after they got a goal called back for an offside that shouldn’t have been and a penalty kick that looked like a dive. Mexico, on the other hand, should complain of not being able to get the win even when up a man and how they didn’t do enough to be the better team, although it’s was a good test. Both teams will now travel to Pachuca where on Tuesday they will face their second friendly match.
The match went on with a Mexican referee, Alejandro Funk Villafañe (who was born in Buenos Aires but is Mexican and works Liga MX) as the referee, something that might have had an effect on what transpired later on. The game was an even match but Mexico went on to take a surprising lead. After a foul in the area, Fernando Beltran took the free kick and crossed it to a wide open Vladimir Loroña, who headed it past Argentina’s keeper Facundo Cambeses.
Mexico took advantage of the goal, but it wouldn’t last long. Off a corner kick, Mexico defended terribly and Cristian Romero was wide open to head the equalizing goal. Mexico’s keeper Sebastian Jurado had no chance, as the defense did a terrible job of defending.
Argentina came close to scoring off a another free kick but Marcos Senesi’s wide open shot went wide. Then minutes later, the first controversial play happened when after a scramble in the area Lucas Robertone slid in and scored. The goal was called back for offside, but replays show the linesman had made a mistake and the goal should have stood. Later Argentina also came close to scoring off of a cross, but Robertone’s shot was wide.
The first half ended and although Mexico had been better at the start, Argentina had taken control by the end of the half.
The second half started and Mexico got a chance in the second controversial play of the day. Eduardo Aguirre had made a nice move with a sombrero in the area and then fell down as an Argentina defender met him, which the ref ruled as a foul and gave a penalty kick. Replays showed the contact was minuscule and Aguirre had dived but the decision stood. Aguirre took the penalty and scored to give Mexico the 2-1 lead. Argentina’s manager got red carded for protesting the decision.
The game continued to be even, and after a deflection by Joaquin Esquivel, the ball fell to Robertone outside the area to score the 2-2.
After the goal, Argentina took control of the game and forward Adolfo Gaich (standout of the U-20 World Cup and the Pan American Games for Argentina) had the first clash of the game with Mexico’s Adrian Mora. Later on, Gaich had a great chance with a low hard shot that Jurado deflected away with a great save.
Moments later, the most violent moment came in when Gaich was going alone against Jurado before Marin came to meet him and was able to block his shot. Gaich went for the rebound but Joaquin Esquivel beat him to it and then Gaich stepped on his leg with a hard foul. Gaich would get red carded. While that was going on, Ismael Govea got into it with ex-Pachuca Nahuel Bustos and a whole fight started that got both teams into a shoving match. Govea was the player who got red carded in their previous Mexico vs. Argentina match in the Pan American Games.
After the fight, the match continued with Mexico having a man up, but Argentina still had better opportunities off counter attacks. Mexico subbed on Ricardo Angulo and the Necaxa player had some good opportunities, but his decision-making was poor. The ref blew the whistle and the teams tied with both teams feeling regret over the result.
While overall Mexico had to be happy with facing such a strong opponent as practice for the CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers, Lozano and company shouldn’t feel happy with the effort. Mexico didn’t have a great game, and the failure to take advantage of an extra man is a bad look for the team. Mexico’s problem at creating offensive danger continued under Lozano, but this time their solid defensive work faltered. They will have a chance to do it all over again on Tuesday in Pachuca. Argentina might suffer because of Pachuca’s altitude and perhaps missing Gaich for suspension. Things might also turn if the bad blood from Saturday’s game continues.