Mexico tied Paraguay 0-0 in their U-17 World Cup debut after a hard fought game. Paraguay seemed to be a little superior through the 90 minutes but Mexico managed to get the result, especially rising to the occasion when they went down a man in the second half. Mexico will now face Italy, who crushed Solomon Islands 5-0, while Paraguay will face the Solomon Islands, who are considered one of if not the weakest team of the competition.
The game started with Paraguay putting on the offensive pressure, especially through the left side of the Mexican team. Mexico slowly started getting more of the ball but were still not able to get the upper hand against the feisty Paraguayan team. Mexico finally had a great chance when Efrain Alvarez got off a shot that almost got deflected into the net by a Paraguayan player, but instead it went out for a corner kick. On the ensuing play, Israel Luna scored but it was correctly called back because of an offside.
Paraguay had a great chance after a mistake by the Mexican left back, but Eduardo Garcia came out and made a great job of taking the ball off of the attacker’s feet. Later on Garcia came up big again when he stopped a shot from Diego Torres and sent it out for a corner kick.
Mexico had another opportunity when a Santiago Muñoz shot was deflected and Eugenio Pizzuto got to the rebound, but Pizzuto’s left footed shot was saved. After a corner kick in which Emilio Lara came close with a header, Paraguay picked it up and had the more dangerous chances. Off of another corner kick, Rodrigo Melgarejo had the best chance of the game when the Paraguayan had a wide open header that he sent wide. The first half ended a very even match.
The second half had a similar start to the game, with once again Paraguay having the offensive press. Mexico tried to make an impact by subbing in Bruce El-Mesmari for Bryan Gonzalez. El-Mesmari started having an impact as Mexico got more of the ball as the game once again grew even.
Once again, Mexico allowed a free header off a corner kick but Garcia was there to handle the ball. Things then went into chaos when Eugenio Pizzuto tried to get to a ball and fouled the Paraguayan player hard and was red carded. Mexico went down a man in a game where they were fighting hard just to be even.
Mexico had a great chance that turned into a tragic play when a Paraguayan crashed into a Ali Avila after clearing into a corner and he then crashed into the left post.
In the humidity, Mexican players started falling because of cramps. But with 10 players, Mexico started attacking more as Paraguay also faltered physically. The large amount of time during the Pizutto red card and injury as well as all the cramps saw the ref give 10 minutes of injury time. Paraguay followed with a couple of close attempts with crosses to the area that never seemed to find an attacker but Mexico was able to hold on and both teams wound up with a point.
Mexico’s U-17 World Cup debut didn’t turn out as expected against a tough Paraguayan team. Mexico failed to impose themselves, but once they went down a man with Pizzuto’s red card, the best thing Mexico showed was the resilience. Mexico will, however, need to improve a lot offensively, as their cohesion for a team that has worked together for so long was seriously lacking. They will face their toughest battle against Italy in the next game, although all teams must have felt a slight bit of relief after the debut of Solomon Islands showed that they lived up to the poor expectations placed on them before the start of the tournament.
As a side note, even with the small agony of the result Mexico became the first CONCACAF team to get a point in this U-17 World Cup.